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Conference Addresses Issues Raised by 2005 BRAC Results

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

ATLANTA, May 3, 2006 – More than 900 people representing organizations with a stake in how the Base Realignment and Closure process goes forward are gathered here this week to discuss the implications of the 2005 BRAC round.

The conference brings together officials from the White House, Defense Department, individual service branches, various federal departments and agencies, and state and local leaders from areas affected by past and ongoing BRAC actions.

Philip W. Grone, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, noted that nearly all of the 22 federal agencies working on BRAC-related issues have representatives here.

"In my memory," he said in opening the conference, "that is the most extraordinary statement of interagency support for a BRAC effort that we have had in our history."

Given the size of the 2005 BRAC round, a great deal of work lies ahead for all concerned to meet the congressional requirement that all actions be completed by Sept. 15, 2011, Grone said. The 2005 BRAC round resulted in 25 major installations being marked for closure, 24 others identified for major realignment, and 765 smaller actions. With more than 800 specific locations affected, he said, this BRAC round touches more than twice as many places as all previous BRAC rounds combined.

And BRAC 2005 actions are less service-specific than those in past rounds.

"It is a truly far-reaching transformation exercise in which we are engaged," he said, "and it's not just a question of what happens to a single service. Over 40 percent of the actions that we will take affect more than one component."

Those actions may affect active-duty and reserve-component forces or forces from different services, he explained. That's because this BRAC round comes at a time when the Defense Department is undergoing a broader restructuring around the world, transforming from a Cold War-era posture to one that's suited to meet 21st century threats, Grone said. For example, it will involve the single biggest change in Army basing since before World War II.

"The work that we are doing today, both to transition bases to civilian economic reuse as well as positioning bases that are receiving missions in the future, is a part of this broader, significant, transformational change to set up and support the military mission for now and the next 50 years," he said. "So this is a unique time in history and a key time in history in which we are all participating."

Grone emphasized that while DoD and other agencies stand ready to help, the decisions on how to redevelop facilities and real estate the military is vacating will be made locally, and that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution.

"Those who deal with industrial assets with a work force that is used to industrial types of activity (should) think of redevelopment in those terms," he recommended. "Think of redevelopment in the context of those assets; take full advantage of the skills in the labor market, but also have an eye toward the future."

The synergy of the BRAC process, Grone told the conferees, goes far beyond whether any given base will close or remain open.

"We've made certain key national decisions, some of them quite painful, to reposition ourselves for the 21st century," he said. "Working collaboratively in partnership, we can do that successfully, both in terms of transition of the mission and in transitioning key national assets in communities that have supported the United States military with great honor and distinction over many decades."

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Philip W. Grone

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