BRAC Panel Targets More Bases for Closure
Several communties that breathed a sigh of relief when they didn’t show up on the Pentagon’s proposed list of BRAC closings may be in for a rude awakening: The BRAC commission itself has demanded an explanation for why several obvious targets were left off the list.
Military bases in Hawaii and California are among several a commission is considering adding to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s list of proposed closures. In a letter sent Friday to the Pentagon chief, commission Chairman Anthony Principi identified additional bases the commission may recommend closing and seeks explanations for why the Pentagon decided to leave those facilities open.
Specifically, the letter asks why Marine Corps Recruit Depot and the Navy Broadway Complex, both in San Diego, Calif., and the U.S. Naval Shipyard at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were not slated for closure. It also questions the Pentagon’s decisions to downsize, rather than close, the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. And, the letter asks for more explanation about the proposed reorganization of Air National Guard facilities across the country and the downsizing of several other small facilities.
In May, the Pentagon proposed closing or reducing forces at 62 major bases and hundreds of smaller installations to save money and streamline the services. Dozens of other facilities would grow, absorbing troops from domestic and overseas bases slated for closure or downsizing.
The law that authorized the first round of base closings in a decade requires the Pentagon to answer such questions before the commission can consider recommending closing or downsizing a facility that wasn’t on Rumsfeld’s original list.
The commission will conduct a public hearing on July 19 in Washington to decide whether bases left off the list should be added. It takes seven of nine votes to add a base. Public hearings and base visits would follow.
The process is always gutwrenching for those involved–my family lived through it several times before Fort McClellan, Alabama was finally closed in the previous BRAC round. It’s even harder to swallow during wartime, though, when these bases have troops deployed to war.
For many background posts, see my BRAC subcategory.