Senior Defense Official Makes Case for BRAC to Congress
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 12, 2013 The acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment and his service branch counterparts presented their military construction budget requests to Capitol Hill legislators here today and made a case for another round of base realignment and closure.
John Conger told the House Committee on Appropriations that the budget request allows the Defense Department to continue prudent investment in its infrastructure.
The DOD budget request, Conger said, allocates $11 billion for military construction, $10.9 billion for facility sustainment and restoration and $3.8 billion for environmental compliance and cleanup.
However, Conger said, the department needs “to find a way to strike the right balance, so infrastructure does not drain too many resources from the warfighter.”
Pentagon officials said the latest BRAC proposal stems from a DOD study issued in 2004 that indicated a 24-percent excess capacity in infrastructure amid constrained budgets and reductions in force structure.
“Then we had a BRAC round [in 2005, which] reduced approximately 3.4 percent of our … replacement value,” Conger said. “So as a consequence, we deemed there's still a lot of excess there.”
Significant force structure reductions followed, Conger said, including projected Army scale-backs of 80,000 personnel, Marine Corps reductions of 20,000 people and the Air Force’s paring of 500 aircraft since 2005. Consequently, there’s “significant evidence that we have excess [infrastructure] capacity,” Conger said.
“We need to be cognizant that maintaining more infrastructure than we need taxes other resources that the warfighter needs as well, from depot maintenance, to training, to bullets and bombs,” he said.
As DOD seeks ways to lower military construction and operating costs and invest in energy efficiency, Conger assured the committee members that BRAC is another method to reduce infrastructure costs to the department.
“The previous five rounds of BRAC are providing us with a recurring savings of $12 billion every year,” he said.
Conger also acknowledged skepticism that some members of Congress have about the need for another BRAC.
“In essence, our past investments in BRAC are paying for our entire [military construction] bill, and then some,” Conger said. “I think there's a good case for presuming another round.”