DEFENSE SECRETARY WILLIAM S. COHEN SAYS FUTURE SECURITY REQUIRES MORE BASE CLOSURES
Stressing that savings from additional rounds of base closures are needed to address America's future national security requirements, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen today hailed net savings of $25 billion and progress on job creation achieved during the first four rounds.
" The Report of the Department of Defense on Base Realignment and Closure ," which Cohen released today, details the costs and significant savings from the previous four rounds of base realignments and closures (BRAC) and notes the tradeoffs the Department faces without additional BRAC rounds.
"Our need is clear and compelling.
The Department of Defense has more base capacity than is required to meet the needs of our fighting forces.
Eliminating this excess capacity will save the Department billions of dollars.
These resources will help ensure that the Department can sustain our high state of readiness and provide our troops with modern weapons," said Cohen.
Admiral J.L. Johnson, Chief of Naval Operations, echoed the Secretary's call for additional BRAC rounds.
Johnson, speaking as Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he and fellow chiefs "stood firmly behind the Secretary in this effort to achieve a more efficient, cost-effective and combat-ready military."
"This isn't about budgeting," Johnson declared.
"It's about protecting American interests, American citizens, and American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
We owe them the best defense investment we can achieve."
The report states that BRAC savings are critical to meeting the DoD's Quadrennial Defense Review strategy.
According to the report, the first four BRAC rounds will have saved $25 billion by 2003.
There will be $5.6 billion dollars in recurring savings each and every year thereafter.
Two additional rounds of BRAC in the next decade will save the Department more than $20 billion between 2008 to 2015 and $3 billion every year thereafter.
Cohen stressed that every year that the DoD delays the start of a new BRAC process, the Department delays the realization of billions of dollars in needed savings.
The report argues that authorization of additional base closures is critical.
This year, the Department will be programming its budget through 2005 and planning through 2015.
Discussing the value of $20 billion to each of the military departments through 2015, Cohen noted that this dividend is equivalent to either 450 Joint Strike Fighters for the Air Force; or two next-generation aircraft carriers and 12 of the Navy's planned surface combatant ships; or all 650 Comanche helicopters and all 800 Crusader advanced artillery systems planned for the Army; or all 1000 Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles and 250 (or almost all) Joint Strike Fighters planned for the Marine Corps.
Cohen also emphasized that the BRAC process is a proven, effective and fair tool for reducing excess capacity and making the difficult decisions that impact the Department, the Congress and local communities.
Since the administration issued its 1993 Five Part Plan to assist local communities with their redevelopment efforts, the Department has seen dramatic results across the nation in base reuse.
Mayor Ned Randolph of Alexandria, La., whose community benefited from the creation of 1,400 new jobs after England Air Force Base was closed in 1992 -- doubling the number of civilian jobs that were there before closure -- joined Cohen and Johnson to speak about his community's successful redevelopment efforts.
"Former military bases have become engines of local economic development," said Cohen, hailing the achievements in Alexandria and similar accomplishments across the nation.
"With nearly three-fourths of our previous base closures and realignments complete, 45,000 new jobs have already been created.
At bases closed at least two years, more than 75 percent of civilian jobs have been replaced.
These numbers are growing steadily.
We are committed to helping communities create jobs and to redeveloping former DoD assets into stronger, more diverse local economies."
More BRAC information is available at http://www.defenselink.mil/issues/brac.html