Panel Votes to Block Funding for Base Closures

Panel Votes to Block Funding for Base Closures

A subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to block funding for a new round of military base closures.

The House Armed Services’ readiness subcommittee on May 23 voted to prohibit the Defense Department from beginning the process of shuttering installations in what’s officially known as Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC. The language was included in its draft of the 2014 defense authorization bill, which sets policy goals and spending targets for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

“It simply doesn’t make sense at this time from any perspective, fiscal or otherwise,” Rep. Robert Wittman, R-Va., the subcommittee’s chairman, said during a brief hearing. “It’s premature to expend dollars we don’t have to fix a problem we’re not sure exists.”


The Pentagon’s proposed budget for 2014 included $2.4 billion in upfront military construction costs for the five-year period through fiscal 2018.

During an April 17 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale said the bulk of the proposed funding would be spent over three years beginning in fiscal 2016.

A commission would convene in 2015 and begin closing bases in 2016, Hale has said. The move would help to reduce the headcount of civilian personnel by about 6 percent, or about 50,000 workers, he has said.

Lawmakers have criticized the funding amount as unrealistic. The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, in a March report said the construction costs for a similar process undertaken in 2005 almost doubled from the initial estimate of $13.2 billion to $24.5 billion.

A decision on whether to begin consolidating military bases should be made after lawmakers have a chance to review and debate the Pentagon’s findings from ongoing strategic and budgetary assessments, Wittman said.

“Strategy not budget should drive national security decisions and I won’t support a reduction in our infrastructure until I’m confident our nation’s readiness and our military won’t suffer,” he said.

The Pentagon next year plans to spend a total of $606 billion. That figure includes a base budget of $526.6 billion and $79.4 billion for the war in Afghanistan, according to figures the department disclosed on May 20. It doesn’t include the next round of automatic federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, which may total as much as $51 billion.

The full House Armed Services Committee on June 5 is expected to vote on the bill, H.R.1960.

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Having thousands of DoD locations is the essence of a HOLLOW FORCE. COngress needs to support infrastructure in this country to creat jobs not keep a HOLLOW FORCE of civlians sitting at desks staring at empty buildings of non DOD inventory. COME on Congress, and furloughing (forced pay cut) to those hangin around. Meanwhile our real militray bases are deteoriating!!!

The simple fact is it cost more to close a base than it does to keep it open with a maintenance crew. When a base is closed there has to be a complete environmental clean up. Insofar as the military over the decades has managed to contaminate large areas of their bases, it is cheaper to keep them military. It simply costs to much to clean them up so they are fit for civilian habitation or use.

if we do need to close some bases to help cut the budget, why not use the base housing for low income housing and redesign some of the office spaces for the same. That way instead of using the money to deconstruct these bases, the initial output would be repaid by the low income tenants as well as help create jobs and places for homeless Vets.….Please guys.…If you really are “PUBLIC SERVENTS” . take a cut in pay and really help your fellow citizens.

finians, first of all, the word is “servant” and we have had no pay raises in three years. All you seem to care about is the “low income”, which ironically, we who work, pay taxes to help support. The less I get paid, the less I spend, AND the less I put in the federal coffer. You might want to go griping to Congress about how the IRS losers get leave with pay while they are being investigated instead of hating on DOD civilians.

Many homes on military bases cannot be reused or sold due to failing current standards, The same applies to many structures on bases. The cost to rehab these buildings outweighs their value.

Shut down another military base so you can put more money in the pockets of the defense contractors? No thanks. Good to see some politicians stand up for the right thing for a change.

Congress allowed Reagan to close bases, same as Bush, we should close GITMO, the base of trash! Why put multi millions in a crap hole!

The damage done to the surrounding communities when a base is closed is devastating. Try checking out some of the towns in which bases have been closed, and you’ll see much of the land fenced and idol, and the civilians employees out of work or gone. The businesses in the surrounding towns lose as well. The Federal money to do this is wasted!!!! Take a hard look at the area around Cape Canaveral since the Space Center stopped functioning. Even the museum there isn’t enough ti sustain a continuing tourist presence, and the jobs for those laid off are nonexistent.

Closing bases in general is tactical suicide. The troops need to be geographically dispersed. It’s not rocket science. Reduction in strength in a peacetime environment may be another issue.

It is a lot harder to find the space and build the bases when you need them in the future, than to just keep the ones that you have
.

By-pass congress. Keep the bases, and just leave them empty, and keep just a small caretaker force. Congress cut the budget, and now wants to tell DOD how to spend what they give them. The congressional “NIMBY’s” should stay out of military deciions on money matters!

The McKinney Act already allows excess base housing to be used for low income or homeless people. This was passed back in 1986, but has little visibility these days. As to taking a pay cut, I will if you will pick up my mortgage, daughter’s medical expenses not covered by insurance, etc. We public employees have living expenses, to..

DoD can close bases without Congress’ permission — the fallout is just multiplied. As to Congress telling how to spend money, unfortunately that is their perogative.

That’s how the auto industry does it, and since we are all brainwashed to drink the “private sector is better than government” Koolaid…

Lets keep it open and stop all the luxuries these rag heads get.

“It simply doesn’t make sense at this time from any perspective, fiscal or otherwise,” Rep. Robert Wittman, R-Va., the subcommittee’s chairman, said during a brief hearing. “It’s premature to expend dollars we don’t have to fix a problem we’re not sure exists.”__________________________________I don’t see why not, they cut funding for every da-n thing else.…It didn’t make sense to cut funding for the operation of these Bases…yet you did.…And besides, of course you don’t know a problem exists, you don’t know much of nothing, DoD knows.

The simple fact is, thats a bunch of crap. You have no idea how much is cost to operate one of these Bases annually do you?

the president is commander and chief, start acting like the chief. he can simply send the prisoners back to their respective countries and not worry about what they will do(no prisoners, no need for a prison)! he can also just start moving personnel and units out of places like Germany or south Korea so that only small amounts of money is actually spent and those people are located the USA radially available for movement, he can also make the units into cadre’s that will in effect change the status of the bases. there is lots more a REAL commander and chief can do like adalie,ike.bobby,lyndon,richard to thwart the congress.he needs to man up.

“to thwart the congress”

Hang on now, whenever the executive goes on the offense to deliberately subvert any of the other branches, problems arise.

Not if you are overseas.

We’re *still* in Camp Bondsteel, and Kosovo was ancient history.

Yes crap. Most bases are not contaminated, and those that do must be cleaned up one day. Better to use federal funds for that than paying moondawg $24 an hour to mow the grass.

Federal employees are not taxed since we don’t produce anything. We are just required to give back some of the money the feds give us.

Some bases have no real value. Here is an example from the G2mil blog:

Capital Airport Air National Guard Station — this 91-acre facility is leased from the Springfield Airport Authority. It is home to the 183rd Fighter Wing of the Illinois Air Guard and occupies two administrative and 31 industrial buildings totaling 267,600 square feet. It employs 321 full-time and 800 part-time military personnel, whose single fighter squadron was deactivated in 2008 as the last of its F-16s departed. Peruse its website to see these expensive airmen and hundreds of civilians pretending they have a mission. They do some jet engine maintenance, but that work can be done much faster and more cheaply at bases that have F-16s. If this base were shut down tomorrow, the USAF would be unaffected, except that personnel costs would drop and lease payments to Springfield would end.

There are significant upfront costs to close a base, but in the long run it does pay for itself. The problem is you don’t see the savings for a decade. The “contamination” is largely from the ranges which much be cleaned of all the munitions and associated chemicals in the soil. Bases with numbers of aircraft need more cleanup than ones that just had vehicles and small arms. Once the land is cleaned and demilitarized, it often becomes an economic producer after its been re-purposed by the state government.

That’s already in the law. The office space on closed bases is usually re-purposed by the state or local government and veteran-owned businesses get first pick. Between the local government and the potential business the land and office space is brought up to code and becomes a money maker if they plan it right.

Be careful when quoting that site. Their information is out of date and lacking in some background research. That ANG station you just mentioned had its aircraft redistributed in 2008 due to the last BRAC; however, there are still ANG units at the facility and the Air Force and Illinois plan on using those units for various other missions which require them to stay there.

Total BS. They lost their aircraft, but there are still units whose mission is to run the empty base, and as for others, new missions will come, some day, but none since 2008.

Marine Corps has been trying to close the recruit depot at San Diego because they can train all Marines Parris Island, South Carolina.

Barstow California has an almost idle supply depot (almost all USMC supplies come out of Albany), but paying people to sit on butts.

We have US Army STRYKER brigades in Hawai’i and they can’t train without loading up and sending to another island.

The list can go on and on. Close/consolidate the bases and reduce the number of general officers and area support groups required to run them.

MCRD SD is indeed not in the best place. Right next to the airport. Parris Island on the other hand isn’t a bad place to go. I wonder if they could move MCRD SD to say…Pendleton. That wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.

tmb2: Not far of mark. Lets use Ft. Devens as a ex, base closes, three surronding counties sue each other for ‘Base housing”…oopps forgot the LBP (din’t read the EA), then the LUSTS, I think there were 4 of them & they weren’t 5K gal one’s either. Then as u said the Pb in the ranges, the other ranges “Off limits” permanently due to UEO. End result 25–35% of the “Base” useless, the areas remediaited about 80–100 million, but not all FED $$. MAARNG & USAR grab a portion & they keep the firestation & clothing sales open 2! So your right, costs up front don’t necessarily reflect end user costs.….… I will not use Camp Edwards or Otis AFB on Cape Cod (Ouch$$$$) as ex’s, or the Sub Base in Groton which was declared a superfund site while still an operating facility (All I’ll say) P.S. did u every find the ref. 2 that 2 stage launch vehicle.….not bustin chops just wanted to get a ref. 4 myself.

Blight:
you know well why Bondsteel was kept open, if you’ve ever been there. It was to provide a continued American prescence hahahahh!

doningram: I’m Army (Can’t) speak 4 any’bdy else, we don’t even have a tank in Deutschland, & compare the force structure from the “Tear Down This Wall” moment to now & well.….. the #‘s speak for themselves!

“P.S. did u every find the ref. 2 that 2 stage launch vehicle”

You’ll have to refresh my memory…I think thats a conversation you had with someone else.

A lot of the contamination is industrial solvents from motor pools and other maintenance/industrial facilities. Even paint shops or landfills where old paint was dumped are major pollution sites. Many of the closed bases thus far are very slow to return any results much less become utilized at anything even close to pre-BRAC projections. Take a look at Naval Air Station South Weymouth as an example.

Costs to clean up even small bases can be staggering. A relaitively small Army base in New Jersey, Picatinny Arsenal has been estimated at over $2 Billion to close.

I’ll concede that the firing ranges, airfields, and more of the “industrial” side of bases (especially older ones) are difficult and expensive to clean, but with some planning the “civilizaton” portions of the bases end up being money-makers for some communities while the cleanup is ongoing. The city of Denver put some work into former Lowry AFB and now the commercial and residential section of the base generates several million a year in revenue. On the other hand, there’s also McClellan AFB in my hometown that sits largely vacant after 18 years because the county mismanaged finding investors at the outset. The website for McClellan Park looks more like a real estate ad than a commercial complex.

It was a conversation with me, and I did not find it, KrazyCOL.

You’d think they would crow about the wonderful target they killed, but noo…

A North Californian?

As a South Californian by birth, I add El Toro MCAS. Los Angeles has too many airports, so you can’t simply turn them all into airports. I think Santa Ana was a military base before becoming John Wayne Airport. So was Ontario Airport, Bob Hope (which was also a Lockheed plant) and what became LAX. /Reuse/ is made that much more challenging.

Then there’s Fort Ord in the north. I’m in Minnesota now, and we have the “Gopher Ordnance Works”, which is an abandoned wasteland south of the Twin Cities, and the Twin Cities Army Ammo Plant, another abandoned wasteland north of the TC. Not military bases, but with similar pollution issues and not easily ingested by urban redevelopment.

No doubt that closing a base has a big impact on surrounding communities. But the military must place mission-related needs — military value — above all other considerations. Communities must focus on boosting the military value of their bases — or prepare for the day the base closes.

Or diversify their commmunities, such that the departure of the main employer doesn’t kill the town.

It’s a story that hits every one-industry town. When the company packs it in, the town keels over.

Most people don’t understand that our military security strategy depends on a combination of Active, Reserve, and National Guard … something decided after the Gulf War in 1991; never does the military want our military deployed again without public input and having these capabilities in a well equipped, fully manned, and well trained Reserve and National Guard makes sure our Commander in Chief cannot deploy troops without public suppoort …something supported by the Active components words, but not there actions …moving more capability to the Guard and Reserve reduces force costs by 50% to 70% while still maintaining robust capabilities;

… if our military wants to save monies there are a few strategies they can readily do without being forced to comply: a. combine there three health care systems into one system reducing duplication, since the war proved they work in integrated fashion; b. retain a three-division based rapid reaction force in the Army and two fully resourced and manned Marine Expeditionary Forces, then convert all other combat forces to Guard or Reserve using existing facilities–resulting in same capacity as now, but provides Guard and Reserve follow-on force within 60 days; c. establish a rotational plan with Guard and Reserve forces for overseas on 10-month rotation to fultill NATO agreements; d. bring US AFRICOM out of Europe back to the U.S. just like US CENTCOM and US SOUTHCOM; mandate the VA and DOD use the same electronic records system … right off the top of my head these are the same areas we waste tax dollars; e. force the military services to use the same combat uniforms–saving R&D monies, they are a joint force …

Define “rapid reaction”. That said, reaction times can be sped up by more aggressive prepositioning overseas, but there’s an upper limit to how much equipment can be stored overseas and perhaps stored underway in RO-ROs. Keeping an entire division’s worth of equipment at pre-position areas to cover the entire planet isn’t cheap. There’s airborne units, but…

In principle, I think more of the Marine Corps should be ship-based, but the question is if we have the ships to make it so. I’m not sure we do.

The problem with pushing forces to Guard is that the states are responsible for their upkeep, and they don’t necessarily have a surplus of funds to do so. And with reserves, there’s some latency and retraining time associated with putting a force together before deployment.

Good and while your at it dump that stupid Joint Base policy which is a complete waste.. To many different missions being mixed together with no one knowing what there supposed to be doing or who they report to is not good for morale or efficiency.

I know how it hurts a community I was at Craig AFB in Selma Alabama in 1977 it devastated that town.

Start with some Bases over seas like they did with Woodbridge England. Some of our Allies like England can run their own security needs!

Hey genious the civilians on these bases do nothing but sit on their butts and suck up the budget. I see them all the time at Warner Robbins AF base all the time if they don’t like their job that day they just go home. The military in their wisdom gave the civilians 2 hour PT every day these guys don’t go to the gym. They leave work and go home. There is no list to tell if they went or not, a big waist of government money and no one has lost a pound.

WRONG!!! We don’t need to dump the Joint Base concept, we need to update Title 10, change the whole concept of the DoD and subordinate agencies (AF, Army, Navy, etc); consolidate bases upon MILITARY mission need and not political agendas. As for the requirements for base closures, remove everything and if the base is federal property, put a fence around it and let the land sit until someone wants to take it over with the known aspect of having to clean anything up themselves (at their cost). If the land is state owned it gets more tricky, but still more cost-effective to close an unneeded base than keeping it in a standby status; even with the cleanup requirements. By the way, the majority of cost overruns were due to Congressional changes during the closure process; remove this possibility (as stated earlier) and costs can be very low.

Hey sailor, better do your research. As far as the Army is concerned, only Mil
Techs (civilians in a title 32 status) or soldiers performing in active duty slots get the PT time, not full time civilians.

Congress and THE PRESIDENT cut the budget. View the origin of “sequestration” — it was Obama’s idea. Now you have swallowed the propoganda that it is Congress.

Some bases closed during the 1990s are going through privatized (joint state/federal/commercial funding) cleanups and savings a few bucks. As you say it can get tricky if the state has plans for that land. The BRAC process usually includes language that says the feds will help the local government make the land viable again since part of the process is measuring the economic impact of closure. There are also a mountain of EPA regs requiring cleanup.

The problem with the joint-base concept is they never made any standards for how the bases should be run so each one is an isolated experiment with the garrison command feeling their way through it. Congress did a study on it recently whether joint bases were saving any money and they couldn’t be sure since there weren’t any standardized ways of quantifying the information.

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