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Next BRAC Will Reflect Changing Times

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2003 – There were 97 major base closures and 55 major realignments during previous base realignment and closure actions in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995, according to DoD documents.

Besides cutting redundant infrastructure, those BRACS resulted in a net savings of $16 billion through fiscal 2001, according to DoD figures, and annually recurring savings of $6 billion beyond then.

However, almost a decade has passed since the last BRAC was conducted, Raymond DuBois, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, noted during a July 10 Pentagon interview. Congress authorized DoD to execute a new BRAC round in 2005.

Much has changed since 1995, DuBois emphasized, pointing to today's war against global terrorism.

"A great deal has changed in the last 10 years that ought to lead any thinking person to the conclusion that (another BRAC) is a good thing to do," he said.

The next BRAC will affect stateside and U.S. territory bases. DoD, he added, is also looking at its global military force structure to see if it meets today's national security needs. Lessons learned from 9-11 and the ensuing war on terrorism, DuBois noted, suggest that adjustments should also be conducted with forces stationed overseas.

And besides trimming excess real estate that's costly to maintain, he explained, another BRAC would assist DoD to become more "joint."

"We ought to look at how all four services can utilize a reconfigured footprint to better support the warfighting plans of the combatant commanders," DuBois said.

Although not addressed in the 2005 BRAC, it's well known, DuBois pointed out, that "there are (overseas) places where we have a concentration of troops basically as a legacy from the Cold War -- as a legacy of the post-World War II situation between the Warsaw Pact and NATO."

The Cold War "has gone away," he asserted. Consequently, he pointed out, there is no longer a need for having 70,000 U.S. troops based in Germany. In fact, DuBois noted that U.S. combatant commanders are slated to meet soon to study today's worldwide basing and warfighting needs.

The 2005 BRAC, DuBois noted, will reconfigure stateside military infrastructure to meet the realities of the 21st century. Some installations, he explained, will gain assets while others will be closed.

"The secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs (of Staff) and the combatant commanders have learned that our force structure is not necessarily positioned in the right place," DuBois pointed out, to carry out U.S. military deployment and warfighting plans in the most efficient way.

Another potential result derived from another round of base realignments and closures, DuBois noted, is fewer duty station moves: Remaining military installations would be in advantageous locations related to their military missions.

If service members move less from station to station during their careers, then "I think that has a positive impact on quality of life," DuBois said.

Basically, the war against global terrorism has caused DoD to rethink "what opportunities should we have for basing, for deployment, for supply lines globally," DuBois concluded.

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