Military Realigment Reinforces Southern Roots
The South, broadly defined to include Texas and Oklahoma, is the biggest beneficiary of last week’s base closure and realignment (BRAC) list.
During the past four base-closure rounds, success was a simple equation for military towns: Don’t lose the base. With the release of the Pentagon’s new list last Friday, however, it has become obvious that this year, for the first time, there will be actual winners – and that overwhelmingly, the core of American military might is shifting southward.
Unlike past rounds, when the Defense Department cut through its bases with broad strokes, seeking to maximize cost savings after the cold war, this year’s list is about aligning America’s network of bases for the needs of the next century. In the South, the Pentagon has apparently found its ideal environment: proximity to the coasts for rapid deployment, cheap and plentiful land, and a culture more tied to martial traditions.
This is largely a case of the rich getting richer. That is, the South was already the place where most of the largest Army bases were located, for the reasons cited. Most of the bases in the Northeast and West Coast were smallish outposts that not only lacked the ability to absorb more resources but are in areas where it is expensive to recruit and retain a workforce. Indeed, the same thing killed Atlanta’s Fort McPherson–a perfectly good base but one that had become surrounded by Atlanta’s urban sprawl.
And then there’s this interesting observation:
“Virginia and Texas have bigger militaries that just about anybody on the planet,” says John Pike, a defense analyst at GlobalSecurity.org. With this realignment, he adds, “It’s accentuated.”
Granted, Texas is nearly as big as Western Europe and Virginia is bigger than most countries and its total is buttressed by the assets, including the Pentagon, in the D.C. suburbs. Still, rather amazing. Largely, it’s a function of the sheer size of the U.S. military whose annual budget is nearly that of the rest of the planet combined.
US defence budget will equal ROW combined “within 12 months” (Jane’s Defence, 4 May)
Defence expenditure in the US will equal that of the rest of the world combined within 12 months, making it “increasingly pressing” for European contractors to develop a “closer association” with the US, corporate finance group PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says.
Its report – ‘The Defence Industry in the 21st Century’ by PwC’s global aerospace and defence leader Richard Hooke – adds that “the US is in the driving seat”, raising the prospect of a future scenario in which it could “dominate the supply of the world’s arms completely”.
The US defence budget reached US$417.4 billion in 2003 – 46 per cent of the global total.
See also this post from July 2003.