Key Senate Committees Preparing New National Defense Bill
2005 BRAC Process Has Proved More Costly Than Originally Thought, Less Effective
Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on a key Senate Committee to forgo a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process as it prepares a new national defense bill for the 2014 fiscal year. A BRAC process could endanger key Pennsylvania military installations like Tobyhanna Army Depot and Letterkenny Army Depot, as well as other military assets throughout Pennsylvania. In his letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Casey cited problems with the 2005 BRAC process which has proven more costly and less effective over time. Additionally, Casey called for the Committee to consider closing outdated overseas bases first.
“Pennsylvania’s military installations are home to highly skilled workforces that have made a substantial impact on our national defense,” Senator Casey said. “The BRAC process has significant flaws. The 2005 BRAC has proven costly to the taxpayer and less effective over time. Another BRAC round could potentially reduce our nation’s military readiness at a time when we need to position our armed forces to deal with emerging threats. I will continue to oppose BRAC and will work with Pennsylvania installations to highlight the invaluable role they play in our nation’s defense.”
Pennsylvania’s military installations have long had a stellar reputation for production and workforce excellence. A BRAC process, which has the potential to cause the closure of military assets across the country and in Pennsylvania, was included in the Administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2014. The Senate Armed Services Committee will review the Administration’s proposal as part of its consideration of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be found below:
The Honorable Carl Levin The Honorable James Inhofe
Chairman Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services Committee on Armed Services
Dear Chairman Levin and Ranking Member Inhofe:
As the Committee begins its consideration of the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I write to express my opposition to the Department of Defense’s request to authorize a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2015. A 2015 BRAC round is ill-timed from both a fiscal and strategic perspective.
The 2005 BRAC process cost the taxpayer more than estimated and resulted in less savings than projected. For instance, according to the 2012 GAO report 12-709R, the 2005 BRAC Commission estimated that implementation of its recommendations would cost approximately $21 billion. However, the GAO found that the implementation costs actually came in at about $35.1 billion, which amounts to an increase of 67 percent over the original projection. The projected 20-year net value in savings that the Department of Defense predicted that the 2005 BRAC would produce has decreased by 72 percent. 75 out of 182 commission-approved recommendations will actually cost more to implement than any projected savings. Based on this study, I am not confident that the current base realignment and closure system has worked as intended. In these difficult economic times, the Senate should not authorize a BRAC round without fully examining all of its fiscal and budgetary implications.
Our nation’s military is also undergoing rapid changes in its force structure. As military commitments in Afghanistan continue to diminish looking towards 2014, the armed forces are currently assessing their end-strength requirements. Without a clear picture of these personnel and equipment needs, I do not believe that we can determine at this time the commensurate basing requirements that best supports our men and women in uniform.
In light of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and its emphasis on a rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region, I would support an examination of base closures and realignments overseas prior to any decision to do so domestically. I understand that the Senate Armed Services Committee issued a report this month which found that overseas construction projects lacked oversight by Congress and the DoD. In addition, it is my understanding that allied contributions to help fund these overseas bases do not adequately cover rising U.S. costs. Before we consider closing domestic bases, we should look abroad first and ensure that every dollar is used productively to support our men and women in uniform and to modernize equipment. I would highly recommend that the committee require DoD to submit a detailed justification for every base abroad prior to authorizing any future BRAC round. This justification should include, but not be limited to, a detailed accounting of how our overseas installations fulfill U.S. strategic goals and help combat emerging threats to U.S. global leadership.
Military infrastructure does not exist solely for its own sake. It must be carefully tied to meeting the needs of our men and women in uniform. As we continue to make sense of these uncertain times and what it means for our military, I urge the committee to defer any possibility of domestic base closures until our nation determines a steady-state force structure and reassesses its overseas commitments. I also recommend that the Department of Defense consider the lessons learned from the 2005 BRAC and reexamine the process before proposing any future base realignment and closure initiatives.
Thank you for your consideration of these views.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator