BRAC May Emphasize ‘Realignment’ over ‘Closure’

BRAC may emphasize ‘realignment’ part (The Hill)

It is less than three weeks until the Pentagon announces its recommendations for base closings and realignments, but analysts and insiders say this year̢۪s list could be markedly different from those in the past. With an eye on military transformation and interservice planning and preparation, Pentagon leaders are expected to recommend far more base realignments, perhaps softening blows to communities, department employees and lawmakers worried about the devastating economic impacts of completely shutting down installations.

As opposed to a full closure, a base realignment expands or reduces the number of personnel at a certain installation, often consolidating missions at one or a handful of bases. In this go-around, that could mean creating joint offices and bases, a key piece of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld̢۪s transformation plans.

“We will see a stronger mark here by the secretary of defense to ensure that there is a correlation between the force structure as he envisions it for the future and the infrastructure to support that force structure,†said Charlie Battaglia, chief of staff of the independent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission, which will analyze the Pentagon’s recommendations over the summer. “That’s why we’re seeing an emphasis on realignment instead of closure.â€

Interesting. Realignment makes a lot of sense, of course. The Army, in particular, though has a lot of tiny bases that are expensive to maintain and largely superfluous. It makes sense to consolidate operations at large maneuver bases. Tiny installations like Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania are often charming but their functions could easily be absorbed by larger posts.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    So are we sure the military rationale for a lot of small, scattered bases — that it takes more enemy missiles to hit a lot of widely scattered targets — no longer holds?

  2. James Joyner says:

    The tiny bases mostly grew up either in frontier days, before modern transportation, or on an ad hoc basis to ramp up for WWII.

  3. Don Carr says:

    I’m not sure that “it takes more enemy missiles to hit a lot of widely scattered targets” was ever too much a part of rationale for placement of bases. In frontier days, “bases” went where expansion went, Bases were put up to protect the people of the new communities being built out on the frontier. The “base” (fort) was “their” base.

    Later, newer bases – created not so much to protect communities as to be part of a national defense strategy – went where they really wouldn’t be all that intrusive on the communities. In those cases, often as not, the citizenry expanded their communities toward the bases (some use the word “encroached”), and, again, a base in a community became “their” base.

    Hence, the concern today of most communities about what BRAC could do to “their” base.