Congress may be considering a new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) at the behest of Senate Armed Services Committee head, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). He and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) are “seriously considering the issue” and plan to speak to Secretary Mattis on how to proceed.
BRAC is not an issue taken lightly by either the military community or lawmakers. Military Times points out that due to the “controversial 2005 reorganization” many officials oppose the idea and won’t let the Defense Department plan anymore future closures. McCain has deemed Congress’ handling of BRAC “cowardice” and “a threat to military readiness.”
Military readiness issues can be attributed to wasted funds, and there is plenty of that at the Pentagon. Pentagon officials state “they are paying to maintain 22 percent more infrastructure than they need” at DoD facilities. Some maintain that those figures are out of date, but that proves the point that some form of data collection on the necessity of each DoD facility is needed.
There have been five base closings since 1990 that the Pentagon estimates have saved the American taxpayers “at least $12 billion annually.” That is a significant amount of money that could have been wasted had Congress not acted. Congress’ unwillingness to act on another round of closings is chalked up to “not making decisions” according to McCain. He states that base closure decisions are passed off to an independent commission rather than Congress taking decision making responsibility.
If McCain and Reed reexamine BRAC, that process could change. Despite opinions either way on BRAC, it’s encouraging that both sides of Senate leadership see that it’s time to address waste at the Pentagon and are willing to look at all the options.
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