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Oct 02

Base Closures:  The Cost of Opportunity

**Note: The event DOES NOT take place at The Heritage Foundation

The Reserve Officer's Association of the United States
One Constitution Ave., NE, Washington, DC 20002

Beginning in the late 1980s, the Department of Defense sought to reduce its operating costs by closing unneeded military bases. Significant reductions in force structure at the end of the Cold War made many bases unnecessary, but existing political and procedural difficulties made closing bases nearly impossible. In response, Congress chartered independent commissions to make recommendations on base realignment and closures (BRAC). Four successive BRAC rounds generated an estimated $16.7 billion in savings, and an annual recurring savings of $6.6 billion. Almost a decade has passed since the last BRAC round. Facility reductions have not kept pace with force downsizing. According to the Defense Department, the Pentagon maintains between 20 and 25 percent excess base capacity. In addition, the missions and tasks required to fight the global war on terrorism suggests that future infrastructure needs may be quite different from what they were in the past. Maintaining excess facilities wastes already scarce funds that could be more effectively spent on critical priorities such as current operations and force transformation. Congress has authorized a new round of BRAC, but action has been delayed until 2005. This panel will examine whether such delays are justified, and if quicker action is required what strategic rationale should drive the analysis for US basing and what guidelines and procedures should govern the analysis process.

More About the Speakers

Kenneth D. Beeks
Vice President, Tail- to-Tooth Commission Business Executives for National Security
Christopher Hellman
Director, Project on Military Spending Oversight Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
Jack Spencer
Senior Policy Analyst, Defense and National Security Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies The Heritage Foundation