The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process is almost complete. It is up to Congress to finish the race toward a better military, stronger civilian economy, and stronger America. The PDF file contains a compilation of The Heritage Foundation's research on the 2005 BRAC round. The publication argues that base closures are important for military modernization and fiscal responsibility and that, furthermore, base closings can create opportunities for private economic development. Congress should focus on efficiently and effectively protecting the United States, not on saving specific bases.
Why the Pentagon Needs to Close Bases
BRAC is one of the most important-and controversial-issues affecting the future health of the armed forces, and it is critical to U.S. national security. It balances national defense priorities, supports the Pentagon's military modernization objective, saves the Department of Defense billions of dollars each year, and creates opportunities for private economic development.
BRAC recommendations are made in conjunction with clearly defined selection criteria. Future mission capabilities and the impact on operations are the list's overriding considerations, but economic impact is also measured. The fact is that conditions change, affecting the utility of many bases and how individual bases contribute to overall national security.
While the BRAC process makes a major contribution to advancing the Pentagon's larger transformation objective, there is no doubt that the closure or realignment of a base, with the accompanying economic considerations, makes for contentious political and public debate. Nonetheless, BRAC is necessary because it:
- Advances the Pentagon's military modernization objective. BRAC is an essential part of recalibrating U.S. basing infrastructure to reflect America's ever-changing national security requirements. It is also about changing how the Department of Defense supports troops, acquires hardware, repairs materiel, manages its personnel, and fights wars. Base closures and realignment allow resources to be focused on creating the military's infrastructure to support a 21st century military.
- Promotes Fiscal Responsibility. The previous four BRAC rounds have saved a total of roughly $17 billion and are now saving about $3 billion annually. The Defense Department estimates that this round will generate savings of approximately $48 billion over the next 20 years. In an environment of increasingly scarce resources, the Defense Department should be able to reinvest these savings in other programs and operations.
- Creates opportunities for private economic development. The first few years after a base closure or realignment may be extremely difficult for an affected area. However, community leadership, planning, and federal assistance have helped communities adapt to base closings and realignments. With the many successes in diverse communities across the country, areas affected by the current BRAC round should draw on the experiences of these communities to develop a strong post-BRAC economic vitalization plan.
Strategic Move Forward
BRAC is part of a larger move toward an improved U.S. military and more vibrant local economies. Congress should make BRAC decisions based on national security requirements, not political considerations. This packet outlines the reasons why Congress should not act to reject the BRAC list.