As part of the $639 billion proposed FY2018 budget, top military officials testified this week before the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies for the budget request for military construction and family housing. Base realignment and closure (BRAC) was brought up by lawmakers and described “as a cornerstone of the DOD’s efficiencies program” by a senior Pentagon official. Other top officials across the military also testified in support of another BRAC round.
When asked by Committee Chairman Jerry Moran, Mr. Peter Potochney, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment, said this on why they are advocating for another BRAC round:
“It’s important to us to make sure we’re spending the precious funds that we get on the facilities that we need. It makes sure we’re not spending the money that should otherwise be devoted to readiness on facilities that we don’t need. And in the end, it allows us to validate the installations that remain so that they can best compete for funding that we expect in the future. That’s why BRAC is important to us.”
As the US military shrinks, funds must be directed to critical priorities and away from excess infrastructure. A senior Army official told the Senate subcommittee yesterday the army currently has 161 million square feet of excess infrastructure capacity. She stated the army, and the entire DOD, would benefit from the BRAC in dealing with this excess infrastructure:
“Installations can only be ready and resilient with adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding and the authority to implement efficiency measures such as closing and realigning our installations…BRAC preserves irreplaceable training land and airspace while eliminating unneeded assets and excess building to efficiently facilitate future growth.”
Although the DOD is rife with waste, BRAC would help produce enormous savings for taxpayers while ensuring the DOD’s budget is directed towards locations that have optimal military value. The last BRAC round in 2005 produced nearly $4 billion in savings, but as the army showed, there remains a vast amount of infrastructure capacity.
With top military officials advocating for BRAC, it is time that Congress grants the authority to conduct a BRAC round. This would start the process of the Department of Defense becoming more effective and efficient. Ultimately, BRAC would be a win-win for our national security and taxpayer money.