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.
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 Ã¢€“- like the Army’s Stryker brigades Ã¢€“ 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.