BRAC 2005: Recommendations 'Will Reshape Air Force'
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 17, 2005 Air Force recommendations provided to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission will reorganize that service, making it more capable to address threats to national security, the Air Force's top civilian told commission members here today.
"We have presented to you a bold program that will reshape the Air Force, improving our ability to defend the nation and doing so with a smaller, more efficient, effective and less-costly base infrastructure," Acting Air Force Secretary Michael L. Dominguez told commission Chairman Anthony J. Principi during a public hearing.
Dominguez, who was accompanied by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper and other senior officials, said the Air Force's BRAC recommendations would affect 115 of the 154 installations that were evaluated.
The Air Force has been reshaping itself into a leaner and more capable force since the end of the Cold War, Dominguez noted to committee members.
"And, we will become yet still smaller," Dominguez predicted, noting that technological advancements are providing more military punch while enabling the service to reduce its overall size.
For example, the Air Force deployed more than 1,000 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers "to drop 9,000 bombs to destroy one target" during World War II, Dominguez pointed out. Today, he noted, one modern B-2 Spirit bomber "can engage 80 targets with 80 bombs in all weather with greatly increased accuracy."
New aircraft slated to enter the Air Force inventory in the near future will be even more combat capable, Dominguez noted, and "will fly longer" between downtimes for scheduled maintenance.
The Air Force wants to consolidate, close or realign those installations that don't fit into the Air Expeditionary Force concept, Dominguez noted.
The AEF, he explained, "draws small, predefined pieces from different Air Force units and fashions those pieces into provisional, or expeditionary, squadrons and wings" that are deployed for overseas combat missions. The stateside bases would perform their normal operations while maintaining a high state of readiness to support wartime contingencies, he added.
The AEF concept also serves the needs of joint warfighters, Dominguez explained, noting its modularity "allows us to package our forces into combat units tailored specifically to the needs of the combatant commanders."
The Air Force's BRAC recommendations recognize the need to defend the American homeland from threats presented by terrorists or other potential enemies, Dominguez noted. Therefore his service's recommendations "preserve the air sovereignty alert mission," he said.
Dominguez said the Air Force values the partnership between its active, Guard and Reserve pilots and crewmembers, noting its BRAC recommendations will position the reserve components "for leading roles in a variety of emerging, in-demand, warfighting missions."
And, the fact the United States remains engaged in a global war against terrorism "makes this base realignment and closure an imperative," Dominguez said.
The Air Force recommends 10 base closures and 62 realignments, Jumper reported, noting the proposals "will 'right size' our force." As a result, he noted, Air Force fighter units will be reconfigured and upsized to 18 to 24 aircraft per squadron.
Air Force units will also be "placed in higher military-value settings" and located "closer to appropriate ranges for operational missions," Jumper noted.
The estimated net savings envisioned for the Air Force as a result of recommended base closure and realignment actions totals more than $14 billion over 20 years, Jumper reported.
The Air Force arrived at its BRAC recommendations after making some "tough decisions," Jumper acknowledged to committee members.
However, "the important gains in war fighting effectiveness and the savings that we will be able to reinvest in combat capability outweigh those concerns," he said.