Need for More Base Cuts

Defense Department Report Cites Need for More Base Cuts

DoD’s 2005 base realignment and closure report just submitted to Congress estimates the department doesn’t need about a quarter of its current overall infrastructure, Raymond F. DuBois, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, told reporters at a Pentagon media roundtable.

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DoD is transforming to meet 21st-century threats like global terrorism, Dubois said, noting the U.S. military is now “fighting in new and different ways, using new and different weapons systems.” However, he said, the department’s Cold-War-era based infrastructure “is not where we would like it to be and how we would like it to be.” And the imbalance between DoD’s changing force structure and infrastructure, he noted, will grow as time goes on.

Because modern military units coming into the pipeline –- like the Army’s Stryker brigades – pack a bigger punch but require fewer soldiers than predecessor organizations, DuBois said, another round of base realignments and closures makes sense.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker made that point in October at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting. “We can get more power out of smaller organizations,” the general said.

I agree that it is past time to close many of the smaller, older bases around the country–as well as most of our bases in Germany. But the timing strikes me as rather inauspicious. For one thing, even with the relatively insulated BRAC processs–Congress lets a quasi-independent commission decide what to cut and then has to vote up or down on the whole list–this will be nearly impossible to do in an election year. Secondly, with the economy a bit lean on job creation, it doesn’t make sense to announce base closures right now, anyway, since they’re inevitably followed by significant short-term job losses in the areas that house the affected bases.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
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.

Comments

  1. ron says:

    Just a quick note, the list won’t hit the streets from Sec. of Defense until 16 May 2005, with the final up-down no later than Dec 05. The timeline and other docs are at http://www.defenselink.mil/brac/ (I am a rookie poster, forgive my lack of link creation)

  2. cas says:

    The problem with treating DoD requirements as “normal” occurs when you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a combat-zone. This could occur at any time outside the continental US; terrorists don’t care if you believe you are behind the front line.
    For example, during Desert Shield/Storm I, my wife and I were both in the US Air Force. I rememeber that there was a desperate scramble for at least a month or more to try to find qualified military tractor-trailer drivers to go to Saudi Arabia, which had suddenly become a war-zone. Previously, all the drivers had been private contractors. They all scrambled to get out of the way, stating truthfully that their contracts did not include getting killed. But how else are you going to move Abrams tanks and Bradley Vehicles quickly from ships in port to the front line, without wasting time (and tank treads)?
    If the military wants to privatize other “non-combat” jobs (all the support folks I knew had to qualify on basic combat skills) they will have to specify in their contracts what will be required of the “employees” during time of combat. Otherwise, the frontline “ground-pounders” could find themselves stuck without vital logistics support.

  3. Kalblog says:

    The Military As A Jobs Program
    A couple of months ago, Donald Rumsfeld announced that he wanted to close about 1/5 of the bases that the military operates. Now James Joyner reports that the Pentagon has come out in support of that. James is right that…