Surge capability examined as part of BRAC process

  • Published
  • By Jim Garamone
  • American Forces Press Service
Defense planners have looked at surge capability across the services and industrial processes as they have gone through the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process.

Defense Department officials said Congress specifically added the surge capability to the basic legislation authorizing the BRAC process. What is different about this BRAC is that "surge was inserted by Congress to specifically look at surge capabilities as DOD goes through the BRAC process," said a DOD official on background.

Two of the eight BRAC selection criteria relate to surge capability. Military value is the primary consideration behind any closure or realignment decision.

The first criterion tells DOD officials to look at "the current and future mission capabilities," the official said. Surge capability is an inherent part of that directive.

Criterion 3 directs DOD to assess "the ability to accommodate contingency, mobilization, surge and total force requirements at both existing and potential receiving locations to support operations and training," the DOD official said.

Surge differs today from in the past, the official said. Surge during the Cold War meant a massive mobilization of active duty stateside forces, the National Guard and other reserve components, and shipping them quickly to Europe.

In the war on terrorism, it means being able to get trained forces -- from whatever component or service -- from the United States to a trouble spot quickly.

Surge also means different things to the different services, the official said.

In the Air Force, surge capacity is broken into local, regional and strategic capabilities. The DOD official raised several points: Does one base have the ramp space to accommodate an evacuation from another base? Can bases in a region handle the number of planes and people needed to handle a contingency? Finally, can the service handle an all-out operation in a remote area of the globe with everything that entails from fighting and logistics standpoints?

For the Army, surge still has connotations of a massive lift of reserve forces to a distant battlefield. Having the training areas and facilities to make that happen are part of the surge requirement.

The Navy and Marine Corps have still another definition of surge. That deals with pier space, the official said. Does the Navy have the space and logistics in place if they need to send ships from the Atlantic to the Pacific or vice versa?

Joint cross-service groups looked at seven common business-oriented support functions: education and training, industrial, supply and storage, headquarters and support, medical, technical and intelligence. A surge capacity is needed in each of these areas also, the official said, and the groups took that into account as they made their closure and realignment recommendations.

"Bottom line is that surge capabilities were looked at several times throughout the two-and-a-half-year process," the defense official said.