Commission Wraps Up BRAC Decisions
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2005 The Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission wrapped up four days of deliberations in final actions Aug. 26 and 27 by voting to turn Pope Air Force Base, N.C., into an Army airfield and recommending sweeping recommendations to revamp the Air National Guard and consolidate its operations.
The nine-member commission deviated significantly from the Pentagon's proposed plan to realign the Air Guard, passing a recommendation that would ensure every state with an existing Air Guard unit would retain at least some Guard aircraft.
Specific details of the plan, including charts used in the deliberation, are expected to be released today, and DoD officials were reviewing the votes earlier today to assess their full impact, if implemented.
The panel also approved moving almost 15,000 U.S. troops from Germany to four stateside bases as part of the Army's modernization initiative. Gaining posts under the plan will be Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Fort Riley, Kan.
The decisions, made over the course of four days in Arlington, Va., will be reflected in a final report to be sent to President Bush by Sept. 8. If he concurs, the president will send the final list to Congress, which can accept or reject it in its entirety, but not change it.
The votes follow months of hearings around the country regarding DoD's proposal to reshape the military infrastructure and eliminate excess capacity by closing 33 major bases and realigning 29 others.
Defense officials had estimated the plan would save some $49 billion over the next 20 years, although that figure is expected to alter dramatically based on the BRAC decisions.
In major actions since Aug. 24, the BRAC commission voted to close:
- Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and moving most of its mission to the new Walter Reed National Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Md., current site of the National Naval Medical Center;
- Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, consolidating medical operations for the region at a new San Antonio Regional Medical Center at nearby Fort Sam Houston;
- Fort Monmouth, N.J.;
- Fort Gillem, Ga.;
- Fort McPherson, Ga.;
- Fort Monroe, Va.;
- U.S. Army Garrison, Selfridge, Mich.;
- Naval Station Pascagoula, Miss.;
- Naval Air Station Atlanta, Ga.;
- Naval Station Ingleside, Texas;
- Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; and
- Brooks City-Base, Texas.
- Onizuka Air Force Station, Calif.;
- Galena Airport Forward Operation Location, Alaska; and
- Almost 400 Army Reserve and Army National Guard facilities, creating joint centers.
The panel voted to keep open:
- Submarine Base, New London, Conn.;
- Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine;
- Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.;
- Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., until at least 2009, and urged DoD to find a new mission for the base, if possible;
- Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev.;
- Defense Language Institute, Monterey, Calif.; and
- Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, establishing a governing board to coordinate education programs between the school and the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
The panel also voted to:
- Wait until March 31, 2006, to decide whether to close Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., giving local and state authorities time to make proposed changes to limit residential encroachment on the base;
- Consolidate operations at Fort Dix, McGuire Air Force Base and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst in New Jersey, creating a single joint base under a central commander at McGuire;
- Consolidate 26 Defense Finance and Accounting Service offices into five: in Cleveland, Ohio; Limestone, Maine, at the former Loring Air Force Base; Rome, N.Y., at the former Griffiss Air Force Base; at the Defense Supply Center-Columbus, Ohio; the Bean Federal Center in Indianapolis, Ind., at the former Fort Benjamin Harrison; and in Alexandria, Va.;
- Move the dental training school at Sheppard Air Force Base, Kansas, to Fort Sam Houston as part of a new consolidated medical center;
- Realign rather than close Red River Army Depot, Texas;
- Keep the Night Vision Lab at Fort Belvoir, Va., instead of moving it to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; Order a study of the practicality of converting a chemical weapons incinerator to incinerate conventional munitions before deciding whether to close Deseret Chemical Depot, Utah.
- Realign Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, by moving its undergraduate navigator training to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.;
- Transfer the Army's 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, to Fort Carson, Colo.;
- Keep the Army Logistics School at Fort Eustis, Va., rather than moving it to Fort Rucker, Ala.;
- Block the move of active-component combat aircraft from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska;
- Move thousands of defense jobs from leased space in Northern Virginia to Fort Belvoir, Va., Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., and Fort Meade, Md.; and
- Stop the move of about 1,000 jobs to Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.