BRAC 2005: Rumsfeld, Myers State Their Case to Commission
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2005 As the military confronts the "new demands of the war against extremism and other evolving challenges in the world," the Defense Department's recommendations for base realignments and closures are necessary, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today told the commission considering DoD's proposals.
Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers testified before the BRAC Commission today. Both men stressed the joint approach taken in forming this year's BRAC recommendations.
Myers said the emphasis on joint warfighting "improves our efficiency and improves our warfighting capability."
He also said the recommendations that DoD delivered to the commission last week include an important focus on the reserve components. "The recommendations will help the reserve components modernize, improve their mobilization processes and transform for the 21st century security environment."
Finally, the recommendations take into account the changed security environment that stresses the department's homeland defense mission and force protection concerns, the chairman said.
Rumsfeld said the jointness implicit in the recommendations makes it extremely difficult to pull just one base or installation out of a proposal. "The department recognizes that operating jointly reduces overhead costs, improves efficiency and facilitates cooperative training and research," he said. "And I would suggest that one must be careful about taking a selective look at individual components or pieces of these recommendations without considering how these components or pieces fit into the larger whole."
Personnel involved in the two-and-a-half-year DoD BRAC recommendation effort sorted through 25 million bits of information in making their appraisals, Rumsfeld said. "They considered some 1,000 different scenarios or approaches, and devoted some 4,000 man-hours while their staffs devoted tens of thousands of hours more," he said. When the recommendations came to him for approval, the secretary said, he approved them intact.
Those recommendations would close 33 major bases and realign 29 others out of some 318 major bases in the United States. "They would close a bit less than 10 percent of major U.S. military facilities and realign some 9 percent if the recommendations are approved," Rumsfeld said.
The secretary explained that the number of closures and realignments is smaller than many people expected. He said this is in part because of the consideration of military surge capability, an increase in active duty end-strengths and the DoD plan to bring about 70,000 servicemembers back from overseas bases.
The chairman said the imperative is for the U.S. military to transform to meet the challenges of today and those of the future. BRAC is not a "stand-alone event," Myers said to the commissioners. He urged them to view the process as rooted in the new National Defense Strategy and National Military Strategy. He said the department's Global Basing Strategy also helped inform the decision. Finally, he said the Quadrennial Defense Review also helped DoD decisionmakers.
Since the recommendations became public, many people have asked why the department is closing bases in a time of war. "The answer is because the changes are essential in helping us win in this conflict," Rumsfeld said.
The secretary said the changes - if adopted by the commission, the president and ultimately, the Congress - will help relieve stress on the military, will allow forces to work more jointly, better protect the forces and help to properly equip U.S. troops. "We must do all that we can to identify and remove all the excess that exists to be better able to address those pressing needs to help the warfighter," Rumsfeld said.
Ultimately, the warfighter and the American taxpayer benefit from the BRAC process, the secretary said.