As sequestration begins to have an effect, the Department of Defense (DOD) is looking for any area where they can cut costs over the next several years. In addition to lower pay raises and potential fee increases for services such as TRICARE, Army officials recently proposed a further round of base realignment and closure (BRAC) starting in fiscal year 2015. Though met with a mixed reaction, advocates say it could help the Armed Forces save billions of dollars, according to Army News Service.
A necessary move
According to the White House, the military is still on pace to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and with the U.S. being out Iraq for more than two years, the number of troops in the Army will decrease significantly in the near future. Specifically, it should drop to about 490,000 by 2017 – a considerable decrease from the 2010 high of 590,000. Fewer troops means there's no longer a need for as many bases. Plus, with the need to pare down operations and spending, closing some installations seems like a logical choice.
"With the fiscal challenges we are facing, the Army has closely reviewed the facility investments to determine the level of resources needed to support the force," Katherine Hammack, the Army's assistant secretary for Installations, Energy and Environment, told Congress recently. "Supporting the force requires appropriate facilities, training ranges, maintenance and operations. And that's where we have focused."
Approval may be far off
Despite the advantages of a new BRAC round, lawmakers believe that it may be some time before it is approved. Among those who are hesitant to enact the closures is Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, who says that the surrounding communities will suffer from such decisions. Specifically, the towns often feel a significant economic impact in the immediate aftermath.
Though a new round of BRAC will be met with criticism, in the past there have been successes. The 2005 round, for instance, will save an estimated $50 billion over the course of 20 years. The four other rounds came largely in the 90s, with one in 1991, 1993 and 1995. The first ever BRAC round took place in 1988.