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DoD Leaders Urge Senate to Authorize More BRAC Rounds

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 12, 1999 – Senior DoD civilian and military leaders have sent letters to the Senate Armed Services Committee urging the panel to allow two more rounds of base realignments and closures.

The letters, sent May 11 to Sen. John Warner, committee chairman, make the case for two more BRAC rounds as the committee considers the fiscal 2000 DoD authorization bill.

In his letter, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said DoD continues to look for savings elsewhere. "Nevertheless, no other reform even comes close to offering the potential savings afforded by even a single round of BRAC," he wrote. "There is simply no substitute for base closure and realignment."

Army Secretary Louis Caldera, Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and Acting Air Force Secretary F. Whitten Peters, in a joint letter, said the BRAC process is "the only tool we have available to divest ourselves of unneeded infrastructure, consolidate missions and free funds to improve priority programs on the scale that we know is required."

Two new rounds of BRAC will rid DoD of $20 billion in excess infrastructure and ultimately generate $3.6 billion in savings annually, Cohen wrote. "In exchange for property that we neither want nor need, we can direct $3.6 billion on an annual basis into weapons that give our troops a life-saving edge, into training that keeps our forces the finest in the world and into the quality of life of military families," he said.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff also urged the Senate panel to authorize two new rounds of BRAC. The "24-star letter" -- signed by Chairman Army Gen. Henry Shelton, Vice Chairman Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, and service chiefs Army Gen. Dennis Reimer, Marine Corps Gen. Charles Krulak, Navy Adm. Jay Johnston and Air Force Gen. Michael Ryan -- noted that studies show DoD has "23 percent excess capacity."

"The importance of BRAC goes beyond savings," the Joint Chiefs' letter said. "BRAC is the single most effective tool available to the services to realign their infrastructure to meet the needs of changing organizations and to respond to new ways of doing business. No other initiative can substitute for BRAC in terms of ability to reduce and reshape infrastructure. Simply stated, our military judgment is that further base closures are absolutely necessary."

During testimony before the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Cohen said BRAC is a "future readiness" need. "It is not for me or for the chairman or for our military at this moment that we need to adopt these two more rounds and to pursue them," he told the panel May 11. "It is for those who are coming behind us and who will need the money to put into pay and compensation and pay-table reform and redux [retirement] and more procurement.

"Unless we are able to start saving funds that we know we need to save, then we are going to put them in some jeopardy," Cohen said.

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