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Official Makes Case for More Base Closures, Realignments

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By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Recognizing congressional resistance to another round of base realignments and closures, a senior defense official told a Senate panel yesterday it would be irresponsible to cut the military’s “tooth” without doing everything possible to eliminate excess within its “tail.”

John C. Conger, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, made the case for a 2015 BRAC round during testimony before the Senate Armed Service Committee’s readiness and management support subcommittee.

DOD is facing a serious problem in light of its declining budgets and force structure, but has limited flexibility to adjust its infrastructure accordingly, he told the panel.

“We need to find a way to strike the right balance so infrastructure does not drain too many resources from the warfighter,” he said. “We need to be cognizant that maintaining more infrastructure than we need taxes other resources that the warfighter needs — from depot maintenance to training to bullets and bombs.”

Conger cited $8 billion in annual, recurring savings from the first four rounds of BRAC in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995. BRAC 2005 is producing another $4 billion in annual savings through avoided costs for base operating support, personnel and leasing costs, he reported.

Meanwhile, BRAC 2005 eliminated 13,000 civilian positions — an example of the kind of workforce efficiencies the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act requires, he said. Previous BRAC rounds averaged 36,000 eliminations per round.

“Congress has already demanded these civilian personnel cuts, and if they are not made through BRAC, they will need to be made elsewhere,” Conger argued.

As the department seeks cost-saving measures, it also is undergoing a comprehensive review that kicked off in January to identify potential cases for closure or consolidation there, he noted.

“There are other examples where we’re driving towards efficiencies throughout the department, and we have to do that. Installations are just one piece of the puzzle,” Conger said. “But as we cut down in force structure, it would be irresponsible of us not to … propose ways to cut the tail as we cut the tooth.”

Conger acknowledged skepticism in Congress about the need for another round of BRAC, most likely, he said, because implementing the last round cost so much more than anticipated.

“To be clear, BRAC 2015 will not look like BRAC 2005,” he told the panel. The previous BRAC, he said, was conducted while the force structure and budgets were growing, and under leadership-directed transformations across the department.

“Today, force structure is shrinking, the budget is shrinking, and we are firmly focused on reducing our future costs,” he said, noting similar circumstances during the first four rounds of BRAC.

“I can assert with confidence that a 2015 round will have far more in common with them than it would with the 2005 round,” Conger said.

The BRAC discussion came within the context of the Defense Department’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal. It includes $11 billion for military construction, $10.9 billion for investments to sustain and restore DOD facilities and $3.8 billion for environmental measures.

The request, Conger noted, is slightly higher than the fiscal 2013 appropriation. This is in part because all but the most critical projects and measures were curtailed this year due to sequestration.

“While budgets are constrained and force structure shrinks, our infrastructure is being held constant,” he told the senators, emphasizing that DOD must maintain its 550,000 buildings and structures that support military operations and readiness.

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About Edited by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer.  In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials.  Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat.  Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republican and The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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