The lingering fear of BRAC

The lingering fear of BRAC

As a practical question for this year, the Base Realignment And Closure commission is almost certainly dead — Congress made sure of that.

But like Godzilla, BRAC doesn’t stay dead for very long, and as long as people know it’s out there somewhere under the ocean, waiting for the right time to return, no one can feel safe.

Case in point: The editorial board of New Hampshire’s Union Leader newspaper, which already was feeling anxious about the future of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard from a previous BRAC go-round. With this month’s fire aboard the fast-attack submarine USS Miami — which may have suffered so much damage it might have to be stricken — the newspaper is worried the BRAC trap could spring again.

Editorialized the board:

Thanks to the teams of courageous firefighters who donned air packs and fought through toxic fumes to control the stubborn fire, the USS Miami may be salvaged. But that is not a certainty. The Los Angeles-class submarine may have been damaged beyond repair. That would be nearly a billion-dollar loss for the Navy and a tremendous blow to the shipyard. In the short term, jobs might be endangered if the Miami’s 20-month overhaul is aborted. But if Portsmouth’s reputation for efficiency is tarnished, its entire future becomes uncertain.

It continued:

The Pentagon still wants to eliminate bases. Even though Congress does not, the unprecedented budget crunch looming at the end of 2012 could give the Department of Defense powerful leverage.

The base has solid political support in New England and both of New Hampshire’s senators are outspoken opponents of base closures. Kelly Ayotte told her Armed Services readiness and management subcommittee recently that since the country is “still paying for previous BRAC rounds from decades ago, it makes no sense to spend tens of billions on a new base closure process. … Savings can certainly be found within the Pentagon’s budget.” Jeanne Shaheen reaffirmed her opposition to base closures on Thursday, arguing that “the last time we went through this process, it ended up costing us 50 percent more than we were told and it achieved significantly less savings than we expected.”

But as long as the cause of the fire is undetermined, expect powerful advocates of other endangered shipyards to malign Portsmouth’s competence and efficiency. That is why Rear Admiral Rick Breckenridge’s immediate public promise of a thorough investigation is good news.

If the shipyard is not at fault, that finding needs to be publicized as soon as possible. If Portsmouth shares the blame, the shipyard must quickly make any changes necessary. This is not new. It did so nearly a half-century ago after a truly tragic disaster. After its USS Thresher was lost during sea trials on April 10, 1963, federal investigators criticized the yard’s procedures. Portsmouth responded by fixing the flaws and rebuilding its image as one of the nation’s essential defense assets. If necessary, expect its skilled workforce to do so once again.

Paranoid? Rational? Both, probably — or as much as  you can be when you’re assessing the fate of an important pillar in a local economy.

Multiply this sentiment by every town in America with a factory or a base or a shipyard, and you can understand why Congress was so eager to put a bullet into BRAC just as soon as the Pentagon spoke its name earlier this year. The problem is, even if the force doesn’t shrink along the lines DoD proposed, there’s still a good chance it could shrink, meaning these kinds of questions and decisions aren’t resolved — only postponed.

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Reality and political reality are two different things. A false reality can become political reality, and in this case its likely given that this is an election year.

The fire on the Miami is a financial tragedy, and a political tragedy for the Navy, but so far has not been a human tragedy. Killing the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard over this would turn it into a human tragedy.

The cause of the fire has not yet been disclosed, and it would be foolish and irresponsible to jump to false conclusions about cause and fault.

USS Miami (SSN-755) was launched in 1988, 24 years ago, and is already well past mid-life. If Miami is repairable, the money spent on those repairs would not provide many years of remaining useful life.

Miami can serve an important mission as a moored training ship at NPTU NWS Charleston in Goose Creek, NC. The portion of the submarine that would be used for that remained habitable throughout the fire.

The unit cost of the newer Virginia class attack submarines has been increased by slowing the pace of buys well below optimum. Increasing the annual buys would reduce unit cost. I’d argue that the money spent on repairs to the USS Miami (SSN-755) might be better spent in acquiring new Virginias.

Miami could spend the rest of her time at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard being decontaminated, stripped, and refitted for use as moored training ship MTS-755.

Cut that darn DoD budget…just don’t do it in my state!!!

Cut the _____ budget…just don’t let it affect me!

I know this is totally irrelevant, but does anyone know what class or kind of ship is replacing the Ticonderoga Class Cruisers???

DoD is right on this one — most of the bases they want to close have minimal personnel and mostly civilian.
Move Picatinny, tobyhana , Rock Island, CRANE and TACOM to Alabama. Dugway to Yuma, TRADOC and Texarkana to Hood and there is ample room at most of the US bases to support personnel from the closure of overseas bases that were planned. As far as they shipyard — it should had been moved to a southern right to work state years agao just for better weather conditions and lower living and mfg cost’s alone.

Or why not go the whole hog and just move the shipyards to Korea and Bangladesh ?

None right now they cancelled that whole program after the Zumwalt became to expensive.

for the same reason a lot of US companies are closing down thier foriegn production and moving back to the US. It is cheaper to build it localy and save on shipping and import fees as long as you stay out of union controlled states.

Well by killing BRAC this year it makes certain that the Pentagon will cut modernization projects now to make the money off of what BRAC was suppose to save. Overall sequestration and additional cuts will come and BRAC may be forced on the DoD to save money.It’ll fall on post Sequestration congress when all of the pet projects are down and in order to keep companies like Boeing to upgrade weapons in there districts they may sacrifice there base on home ground.

Ok thanks!

The DDG destroyers is a functional replacement.
Afterall Ticonderoga class was just Aegis radar and double ended missile battery in a destroyer hull

Done and done

That would be South Carolina not North Carolina.

Thanks too!

It’s probably time to admit that war is just too costly. Instead of making enemies and having to maintain a large military force to deal with it, the time has arrived to try a different approach.
The cost of providing effective help to the tens of thousands wounded in mind and body will be a cost we bear
for a generation or more along with the life changing events families go through.
Being the worlds most lethal entity has reached the point of diminishing returns for our country. We have robbed all those born after the ‘9/11′ EVER being able to experience the feeling of freedom the rest of us
enjoyed. I hope I’m wrong though looking ahead the future is not bright.
It seems obvious some bases need to be closed. There is, at this point, no way to fund the military at the rate we have been doing.
The private sector revenue is fallen behind what can be sustained. Being a Viet Nam vet I see these present conflicts as a kind of Viet Nam double feature. The mental damage will be extreme in comparison as will the number of severely wounded survivors.
Now how can I feel good about all the folks both military and support, coming home to a crashed economy?
The party that was party to creating this horrible scenario at its beginning, has taught us a tough lesson in
what happens when we don’t pay attention can result in a prolonged dose of Super High Intensity Training.

Despite big promises to the contrary, the BRAC closure process has been a terrible wast of money. Most bases closed during the last round were very old and out of environmental compliance and consequently unsuitable for resale or public use. Millions of acres were condemned or lost to hazardous waste, ammunition contamination and thousands upon thousands of housing units was left to fallow. So after more than 20 years of cleanup and billions spent in a failed attempt to turn a profit considerable money was lost. The BRAC destroyed entire communities and thousands of job loses and the current defense budget is has more than doubled since the 1980. It would have cheaper to just keep the bases open. Say no to BRAC.

The idea behind a BRAC is not to sell off the bases to the public. Do you know how much of the Services’ total budget goes towards maintaining bases? It’s a huge cost and there are very few efficiencies to be gained other than closing bases and moving on. True, will probably take 5–7 years to see the benefit, but in the long run it is a savings. But, you hit the nail on the head as to why BRAC is a four-letter word in Congress…jobs. Congress is all about holding DoD accountable for reducing the defense budget, they just want to make sure the reductions occur in someone else’s state or district.

Great idea: instead of paying low wages to overseas workers, let’s pay minimum wage to American workers. Let’s ensure that high-paying American jobs are killed so that corp. CEO’s current $9million dollar average pay can be increased yet again.

Obviously unions are the enemy, not corporations.

Corporations are going to make a profit no matter what, unions are also in it for profit as well and broke the back of a lot of major US corps with all thier strikes ands demands sending jobs overseas. Starting pay at a lot of the non union state major corps is well above min wage for non skilled workers.

Closing the bases at a time when jobs are scarce is a dumb idea. This is why most americans now believe we no longer have any true leaders in governement, as they try to make cuts based on bad decisions. Instead of using this option, it would be so much better economically to just lower the salaries and benfits of all congressmen and senators to a level THEY can live with rather than continue to ask everyone else to suffer the loss. Next step would be to put a cap on apyout benefits ans salaries of CEO of companies. Everyone knows they do not deserve what they receive now, not even close to it, with things being as they are today. Especially those who have yet to be held criminally accountantable for the Jobs that they help Lose AND THE COMPANIES THEY HAVE MISMANAGED AND DROVE TO THE GROWN. Shouldnt there be something within our judicial system that can hold them criminally liable for these offenses on a FEDERAL level? Where have all the truely great leaders of our great country gone????

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