BRAC Panel Sends Final Report to President
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2005 The Base Realignment and Closure Commission delivered its final report, outlining its recommendations for reshaping the Pentagon's infrastructure and force structure plan, to President Bush late Sept. 8.
Copies of the report are expected to be delivered today to the Defense Department and Congress, according to a news release the BRAC Commission issued Sept. 8.
The nine-member panel wrapped up months of public hearings and four days of final deliberations in Arlington, Va., Aug. 27, and met the Sept. 8 headline for submitting its final report to the president.
The president now has several options. If he concurs, he can approve the report and send it to Congress by Sept. 23. He also can reject it or return it to the commission for revisions.
If Bush sends the report to Congress, its members will have 45 legislative days to accept or reject the list in its entirety. Congress is not authorized to make changes to the final report.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld released 190 recommendations for closing and realigning military installations May 13, calling them an opportunity to "reset our force," to make it more efficient and cost-effective. Department representatives spent two and a half years assembling the original list.
Rumsfeld said his recommendations would cut excess military infrastructure between 5 and 11 percent and save $48.8 billion over 20 years.
After months of study, visits to affected installations, and public hearings around the country, the commission approved 86 percent of DoD's original recommendations -- 119 with no change and another 45 with amendments, the panel noted.
However, the panel rejected 13 recommendations, significantly modified another 13, and made five additional closure or realignment recommendations on its own initiative.
Of DoD's 33 major closure recommendations, the panel approved 21, recommended seven bases be realigned rather than closed, and rejected five recommendations outright. In addition, the commission recommended closing rather than realigning another installation, for a total of 22 major closures.
The BRAC panel withdrew its recommendation to realign Connecticut's 103rd Fighter Wing. That recommendation, one of the commission's many deviations from the original DoD plan regarding realignment of the Air National Guard, met with legal opposition in the U.S. District Court for Connecticut.
The commissioners agreed that if the court's injunction is later vacated, reversed, stayed or otherwise withdrawn, the recommendation regarding the 103rd Fighter Wing will be returned to their report.
Anthony Principi, the panel's chairman, said he's proud of the commission's work and recommendations. "We reached our decisions through an open, fair and non-partisan process," he said. "While we listened carefully to the input from local communities, military value was our top priority."