Troop Moves, BRAC Part of DoD's Transformation Agenda, Officials Say
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 21, 2006 The pending repositioning of thousands of overseas U.S. troops and stateside base closings or adjustments mandated by the 2005 round of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission are integral to the Defense Department's transformation agenda, DoD officials said here yesterday.
"From a strategic perspective, the implementation of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round, as well as the department's global defense posture review, serve as key elements in the transformation of the armed forces," Philip W. Grone, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, told House Armed Services Committee members.
U.S. defense planners believe the end of the Cold War brought a reduced likelihood of a major war being fought in Europe. In recognition of this situation, about 70,000 American troops are being moved from European locales -- mostly Germany -- to Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Riley, Kan., as part of a significant reshuffling of U.S. forces around the globe.
"In Europe, we no longer need heavy maneuver forces as the central element of our defense posture," Ryan Henry, principal undersecretary of defense for policy, said to committee members. Agile, lighter forces will replace heavy, slow-moving legacy units, he said.
Most U.S. bases in Europe eventually will be replaced by simpler, non-permanent and less-costly installations, said Navy Rear Adm. William D. Sullivan, vice director for strategic plans and policy with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Henry said other troop-realignment changes affecting forces in Japan, Korea, Guam, Alaska and Hawaii are planned. In Asia, the realignment has an emphasis on a deterrent capability, he said.
Sullivan said the most austere of these sites, called cooperative security locations, are heavily supported by host nations. This type of site may routinely not have U.S. military personnel present except during training exercises or real-world contingencies, the admiral said.
Forward operating sites are slightly more robust and have some permanent U.S. military presence, Sullivan said. This type of site, however, doesn't come with facilities such as schools and large commissaries necessary for family-member support.
This arrangement illustrates the power-projection concept, in which most U.S. forces are based stateside and rapidly deployed overseas for training or to participate in real-world military operations.
Grone said DoD expects to realize about $5 billion in annual savings through BRAC and BRAC-related global defense posture moves.
Troop repositioning and base closures will contribute to the fielding of a more efficient, effective and adaptable military force, Henry said.
"That's a combination of not only the global force posture changes but the BRAC changes," Henry said. "But, we will continue to need to fine-tune this as strategic circumstances change in the future."