Commission begins next round of realignments, closures

  • Published
  • By John D. Banusiewicz
  • American Forces Press Service
The 2005 Base Realignmnent and Closure Commission began its work here May 4.

Commission Chairman Anthony J. Principi, former secretary of Veterans Affairs, administered the oath of office to eight commissioners who will evaluate the Defense Department's recommendations for changes in U.S. force posture.

After evaluating DOD's recommendations, the independent BRAC commission will submit its own list to the president for review and approval, and then to Congress, which must accept or reject the list in its entirety.

"The Congress and the president look to this commission to provide an unbiased, independent assessment and clear 'eye of reality check' on DOD's proposals for restructuring the base infrastructure supporting our armed forces," Mr. Principi said.

He said the commission's work must reflect that while the United States devotes great resources to its defense, those resources are limited.

"Every dollar consumed in redundant, unnecessary, obsolete, inappropriately designed or located infrastructure is a dollar not available to provide the training that might save a Marine's life, purchase the munitions to win a soldier's firefight, or fund the advances necessary to ensure continued dominance of the air or the seas," Mr. Principi said

He said that the BRAC process will affect people.

"The words 'closure' and 'realignment' are easy to write on paper," he said, "but they do have profound effects on communities and the people who bring those communities to life. The ripples of the proposals the secretary of defense will present to our nation and to us will be tsunamis in the communities they hit."

No decision on closure or realignment will be arbitrary, Mr. Principi said.

"The Congress, in authorizing the 2005 BRAC, recognized the necessity for cost-effective operation of our armed forces," he said. "The Congress, in establishing this commission and in setting forth the standards against which we are charged to measure DOD's proposals, also ensured these decisions would not be made in a vacuum, and that DOD's proposals and their rationale and supporting data would be subject to independent analysis and assessment."

DOD officials must submit their list of recommended closures and realignments to the commission by May 16, and the commission must send its report to the president by Sept. 8.