Rumsfeld recommends 5 to 11 percent cut in infrastructure

  • Published
  • By Jim Garamone
  • American Forces Press Service
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's recommendations to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission would cut excess military infrastructure between 5 and 11 percent, he said during a Pentagon news conference May 12.

"The department is recommending fewer major base closures than had earlier been anticipated, due in part to the return of tens of thousands of troops through our global posture review, and also due to decisions to reduce lease space by moving activities from lease space into owned facilities," Secretary Rumsfeld said.

But more than simply eliminating infrastructure, the BRAC round will allow the U.S. military to reorder itself to face the new threats of the 21st century, the secretary said.

"In 1961, President Kennedy took office and found a U.S. defense establishment that was still largely arranged to re-fight World War II," Secretary Rumsfeld said. "He ordered an extensive consolidation of bases to meet the challenges of the Cold War."

Today, DOD finds itself in the same situation. The department is using the BRAC round to change an infrastructure more attuned to the Cold War to meet "the new demands of war against extremists and other evolving 21st century challenges," Secretary Rumsfeld said.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, said that BRAC gives the military the opportunity "to increase our combat efficiency and effectiveness, and return our forces to the deployable force structure, thereby reducing stress on the force."

Many BRAC recommendations will ease stress on servicemembers by allowing the military to provide modern, world-class facilities and more efficient and joint organizations, the chairman said.

The secretary's recommendations go to the BRAC commission on May 13. Commissioners will examine the recommendations and make their independent judgment on each. They will present their list to President Bush in September. The president may approve or disapprove the list in total. If he approves it, it will go to Congress. Congress has 45 days to disapprove the list. If it does not, the list becomes law.

The secretary emphasized that the prime factor in each BRAC recommendation is an assessment of an installation's underlying military value.

"In a time of war, whenever we can find ways to increase support for military needs to help the warfighters, we should do no less," he said.

Previous BRAC rounds -- in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995 -- eliminated 21 percent of excess U.S. military infrastructure, and reallocated many billions of dollars to pressing military needs.

"This year's recommendation ... should result in some $5.5 billion in recurring annual savings, a net savings of $48.8 billion over 20 years," Secretary Rumsfeld said.

"When combined with the proposed changes to U.S. global posture, that projected 20-year net-savings increases from $48.8 billion to $64.2 billion, or some $6.7 billion per year," he said.

The BRAC process began more than two years ago. Senior civilian and military leaders looked at how to close and realign current infrastructure to maximize warfighting capability.

General Myers said, "We had three objectives when we did that: (first) continuing the progress we have made in transforming our force including how we integrate our reserve component into the total force and preparing them for the 21st century; and how we posture our forces globally to be more flexible and agile. Second, configuring our infrastructure to enhance joint warfighting, facilitate joint training and improve efficiency and, finally, converting unneeded capacity into warfighting capability."

Both Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers thanked the many civilian and military people who worked on the process.

Officials said base closings and realignments are hard on the communities affected by the changes. Secretary Rumsfeld pledged to help the communities and workers that will be displaced by the process.

"The department will take great care to work with these communities, with the respect that they have earned, and the government stands ready with economic assistance," he said.