DoD Details Base Closure Legislation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2001 DoD has made changes to the base closure and realignment legislation and will send it to Congress shortly, DoD officials said Aug. 2. DoD would like the legislation passed in fiscal 2002.
The main instrument of base closure and realignment the commission remains, said Pete Aldridge, defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. The "all-or-nothing" aspect of previous BRAC rounds also remains.
The effort now entitled the Efficient Facilities Initiative -- will address all U.S. military installations. The legislation pertains only to those in the United States and its territories. "Recommendations for closure or retention will be based upon future force structure needs to meet our strategy, and will emphasize retained military value," Aldridge said. This was not part of deliberations in previous closure and realignment rounds.
Other changes include having nine commissioners rather than eight to avoid tie votes, and that there is a single round of closures and realignments rather than two as the previous administration proposed.
In addition to the stateside effort, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has tasked the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to examine overseas basing needs. Plans for closing overseas installations would be due to the department by March 2003.
DoD officials estimate the military has between 20 and 25 percent excess infrastructure. They said it is a drain on constrained resources better used in modernizing the force and transforming the military. Independent auditors estimate the military is now saving about $6 billion a year from prior closure rounds. "We now estimate that after spending up-front costs, we will start to achieve savings in fiscal 2007 and will eventually reach a steady-state savings rates of over $7 billion a year," Aldridge said. He estimated closure costs would be around $10 billion total.
Here's how the legislation would work. If Congress passes the legislation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would work with the services to begin a comprehensive review of DoD installations, emphasizing military value. He would recommend a revised infrastructure plan to the EFI commission by March 2003.
The independent commission would review the DoD list "and could make changes or accept the secretary's position or whatever," Aldridge said. The commission would send its recommendations to the president by July 2003.
Once the list reaches the White House, the president would have two weeks to accept or reject the recommendations on an all-or-none basis. If he rejects the list, the commission shall provide revised recommendations back to the president by mid-August 2003. If the president rejects the revised recommendations the second time, the process ends, Aldridge said.
"If the president accepts the recommendations, they are forwarded to the Congress in early September 2003," he said. Forty-five days after the president's sends the list to Capitol Hill, the recommendations become binding unless the Congress enacts a joint resolution rejecting the recommendations on an all-or-none basis.
If the list is accepted the defense secretary "must initiate the binding recommendations within two years and complete them within six years," Aldridge said.
DoD has no list now on what installations may or may not close. Aldridge said this must wait on the results of the Quadrennial Defense Review in September. DoD will do an analysis that will line up force structure with infrastructure. Aldridge said DoD is asking for one round rather than two to get the pain of base closure over quickly. He said there is no sense in drawing out the process.