BRAC Positive for Affected Communities, Senior Official Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 7, 2005 Many civilian communities emerge from military base closures or realignments often in better economic health than before, a senior DoD official noted at a defense community redevelopment association meeting here June 6.
For example, Lowry Air Force Base and Fitzsimons Army Medical Center -- two Denver-based military entities closed during previous base realignment and closure actions -- "are now national models" for installation redevelopment and economic revitalization, said Philip W. Grone, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment.
The four previous BRAC actions implemented between 1988 and 1995 "produced significant results" in reducing excess DoD infrastructure, Grone said during his keynote address at the National Association of Installation Developers and Association of Defense Communities annual conference.
Those combined actions cut the military's infrastructure by about 21 percent-- including 97 major bases, Grone noted, and resulted in $7.3 billion annual recurring savings for DoD.
Yet, DoD's current infrastructure "remains too reflective of arrangements designed for the Cold War," Grone said. And stateside and overseas military forces "are not positioned as effectively as they could be," he added, "to meet the demands of the war on extremism and future challenges the nation may face."
The U.S. military is also undergoing widespread transformation, Grone pointed out, noting that "our infrastructure and support systems must keep pace."
DoD recommendations to the 2005 BRAC commission "will, if approved, further the efforts of the department to transform the military, improve the joint utilization of our infrastructure and support assets, and convert unneeded infrastructure into combat capability by generating significant savings," Grone said.
If implemented, the department's 2005 BRAC recommendations would close just over 10 percent of today's existing military bases, Grone said. This would involve closing 33 major stateside bases, he said, as well as 29 major realignments and 775 minor closures and realignments.
Forty-nine installations "would see mission growth" if the 2005 BRAC is enacted, Grone said, with some bases gaining "significant" numbers of military and civilian personnel.
The 2005 BRAC, Grone noted, takes into account the movement of between 60,000 to 70,000 military personnel and their families from overseas postings to stateside installations.
If approved by the commission, by Congress, and the president in the fall, the 2005 BRAC will result in $5.5 billion in annual recurring savings for DoD, Grone said.
Those projected savings "are real and they are significant," Grone said, noting the 2005 BRAC recommendations will "position the nation well for the mission needs of the 21st century."
DoD "is mindful of the effect these recommendations will have on a number of communities across the nation," Grone emphasized. The department stands ready, he said, to provide affected communities with redevelopment planning and transition assistance.
Grone said 22 federal agencies "will work together to coordinate federal programs to assist in local economic transition and to retrain the workforce" in BRAC-affected communities.
The Government Accountability Office has noted "that many of the communities that have dealt with military base closure are faring well," Grone noted. After reviewing more than 60 locations impacted by the four prior BRAC rounds, Grone said the GAO found that almost 70 percent had unemployment rates equal to or lower than the national average.
And almost 50 percent of those GAO-reviewed communities had income growth that exceeded the national average, he said.
The overall economic impact of BRAC actions on communities had been found to be "a positive one," Grone said.