The Department of Defense announced today that it is drafting a legislative proposal calling for a new single round of base closures in 2003 that is an improvement over the process used in the previous rounds of infrastructure reductions.
The DoD plan is called the Efficient Facilities Initiative of 2001 (EFI) and builds on the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990. The proposed legislation supports the Department's efforts to transform its facilities to meet the challenges of the new century.
There are two purposes for EFI:
To comprehensively evaluate the continuing need for domestic installations based on the availability of DoD installations worldwide, and the results of an overseas basing review to be conducted upon completion of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR); and
To consider how best to organize important military assets to meet future national security needs.
In addition to authorizing an additional round of base closures and realignments, DoD's draft legislation would improve the previous base closure process by harnessing the strength and creativity of the private sector and ensuring the priority of military value. The new plan also would authorize permanent legislation that encourages the Service secretaries and local communities to become partners in the ownership, operation, or maintenance of enduring military installations. In effect, this last component of EFI would permanently authorize the pilot program at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and make it available to all the military departments.
"It is important to emphasize that our plan is much more than a budget driven exercise," Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said. "This effort is essential to re-shape and properly match installations' capabilities with changing military needs, and legislative authority is essential to rationalize the Department's management of its installations' infrastructure."
At a press briefing announcing DoD's proposal, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Pete Aldridge outlined how the process would work. Aldridge said that the Secretary of Defense would conduct a comprehensive review of all DoD installations. This review will be based on a force structure plan developed from the QDR and criteria that emphasize military value.
Final DoD recommendations would be made to an independent commission by March 14, 2003. That commission will then review the recommendations and send its own to the President by July 7, 2003.
As in the previous process, the president will have two weeks (until July 22, 2003) to accept or reject the commission's recommendations on an "all or none" basis. If rejected, the commission shall provide revised recommendations to the president by Aug. 18, 2003.
DoD estimates that the savings produced through infrastructure reductions will allow the Department to free up needed resources for recruitment, training, and modernization. It is also estimated that additional cuts in the Department's infrastructure will ultimately save the American taxpayers up to $3.5 billion annually.