Grone: BRAC 2005 important for many reasons

  • Published
  • By Samantha L. Quigley
  • American Forces Press Service
Base Realignment and Closure 2005 is in full swing and this round is important for many reasons, said Philip Grone, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment.

To support ongoing force transformation, to improve the joint use of Department of Defense assets and to convert waste to warfighting are important in and of themselves, Mr. Grone said April 11.

“But the timing of BRAC for 2005 is also important because it provides a platform, an opportunity, for us to assess the sites and select the sites for forces that will return to the United States as a result of the broader global-force posture realignment that the secretary and the department have undertaken.”

DOD uses the process to reorganize its installation infrastructure to most efficiently support its forces, increase operational readiness and facilitate new ways of doing business, according to the BRAC Web site. The first BRAC occurred in 1988, and more followed in 1991, 1993 and 1995.

Congress authorized BRAC 2005 in the fiscal 2002 National Defense Authorization Act. The selection criteria were published in February 2004. In March of this year, President Bush appointed the members of an independent BRAC commission.

The next big BRAC deadline is May 16 when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld must make his recommendations for realignments and closures to Congress and the commission. By Sept. 8, the commission must send its findings to the president, who has until Sept. 23 to approve or disapprove the commission’s report.

Mr. Grone said that initially all installations are considered for closure or realignment.

“By statute, all military installations are to be treated equally,” he said. “Throughout this process, we are assessing all of our installations and functions and missions in an equal way so that we can have a defensible package of recommendations to provide to the independent commission.”

There are several criteria for selecting a base, but one top consideration is the installation’s current and future mission capabilities and the effect on operational readiness of the total force, including the impact on joint warfighting, training and readiness.

“In this round of BRAC, the joint cross-service groups that we have established have greater breadth (than BRAC 1995),” Mr. Grone said. “So rather than looking at, as we did in 1995, depot maintenance in this round of BRAC, we’re looking at all of the industrial activities of the department on a joint basis.”

Medical functions, headquarters and support, education and training, intelligence, supply and storage are all being assessed from a joint perspective, he said. This will help provide the most efficient military structure.

Mr. Grone said that jointness is a “key aspect” of this BRAC. “The decision process in this BRAC is joint from top to bottom in this round of BRAC,” he said.

Another important criterion is the availability and condition of lands, facilities and associated airspace at existing and potential receiving locations. That availability also extends to homeland-defense training missions.

Officials at bases chosen for closure or major realignment can expect the process to be completed within six years from the approval of recommendations. They can also expect some assistance and guidance from the DOD and interagency partners, Mr. Grone said.

Officials at DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment make planning grants and assistance available. Also, Mr. Grone said, a series of policy reforms will enhance the DOD’s ability to move forward to close or realign a base as expeditiously as possible to allow the economic redevelopment of the areas affected.

“All the communities that support our military installations do so very solidly with a great deal of cooperation and partnership,” he said. “But as a result of what we must do to enhance the military mission, it’s inevitable that there will be some bases, as excess capacity, that no longer will be required.

“In those circumstances, we’re going to work in a very productive way, we trust, with those local communities … working in partnership with them to provide a foundation for solid economic redevelopment,” Mr. Grone said.