Rumsfeld, Myers state their case to commission

  • Published
  • By Jim Garamone
  • American Forces Press Service
As the military confronts the "new demands of the war against extremism and other evolving challenges in the world," the Defense Department's recommendations for base realignments and closures are necessary, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told the commission considering DOD's proposals May 16.

Secretary Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers testified before the Base Realignment and Closure Commission on May 16. Both men stressed the joint approach taken in forming this year's BRAC recommendations.

The emphasis on joint warfighting "improves our efficiency and improves our warfighting capability," General Myers said.

He also said the recommendations that DOD officials delivered to the commission include an important focus on the reserve components.

"The recommendations will help the reserve components modernize, improve their mobilization processes and transform for the 21st century security environment," General Myers said.

Finally, the recommendations take into account the changed security environment that stresses the department's homeland defense mission and force-protection concerns, the chairman said.

Secretary Rumsfeld said the jointness implicit in the recommendations makes it extremely difficult to pull just one base or installation out of a proposal.

"The department recognizes that operating jointly reduces overhead costs, improves efficiency and facilitates cooperative training and research," he said. "And I would suggest that one must be careful about taking a selective look at individual components or pieces of these recommendations without considering how these components or pieces fit into the larger whole."

People involved in the two-and-a-half-year DOD BRAC recommendation effort sorted through 25 million bits of information in making their appraisals, Secretary Rumsfeld said.

"They considered (about) 1,000 different scenarios or approaches, and devoted (about) 4,000 man-hours while their staffs devoted tens of thousands of hours more," he said.

When the recommendations came to him for approval, the secretary said he approved them intact.

Those recommendations would close 33 major bases and realign 29 others out of about 318 major bases in the United States.

"They would close a bit less than 10 percent of major U.S. military facilities and realign some 9 percent if the recommendations are approved," Secretary Rumsfeld said.

The secretary explained that the number of closures and realignments is smaller than many people expected. He said this is in part because of the consideration of military surge capability, an increase in active-duty end-strengths and the DOD plan to bring about 70,000 servicemembers back from overseas bases.

The chairman said the imperative is for the U.S. military to transform to meet the challenges of today and those of the future. BRAC is not a "stand-alone event.” He urged commissioners to view the process as rooted in the new National Defense Strategy and National Military Strategy. The department's Global Basing Strategy also helped inform the decision, he said. Finally, the Quadrennial Defense Review also helped DOD decision-makers, General Myers said.

Since the recommendations became public, many people have asked why the department is closing bases in a time of war.

"The answer is because the changes are essential in helping us win in this conflict," Secretary Rumsfeld said.

The secretary said the changes, if adopted by the commission, the president and ultimately, the Congress, will help relieve stress on the military, will allow forces to work more jointly, better protect the forces and help to properly equip U.S. troops.

"We must do all that we can to identify and remove all the excess that exists to be better able to address those pressing needs to help the warfighter," Secretary Rumsfeld said.

Ultimately, the warfighter and the American taxpayer benefit from the BRAC process, the secretary said.