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DOD Conducts ‘BRAC-like’ Review in Europe

Compliments of:

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

 

While the U.S. continues to reduce its military presence in Europe, the Defense Department is conducting a review to identify more Europe-based installations and training areas to recommend for closure or realignment.

Then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta directed the review in January, and results are expected by the year’s end, a senior defense official told Congress earlier this week.

The review was ordered in light of force reductions under way or planned in Europe, and also because Congress directed DOD to seek out ways to cut infrastructure in Europe before requesting any more base realignments and closures in the United States.

John Conger, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, described the European base review as a “BRAC-like process” that will help identify excess infrastructure and propose efficiencies in troop basing.

“We’re doing a thorough scrub,” Conger told the Senate Armed Service Committee’s readiness and management support subcommittee.

“We have been reducing our force structure in Europe for quite some time, and we have been reducing our facilities in Europe for that same amount of time,” Conger said. “There’s a lot that’s been done already.”

In fact, the U.S. force in Europe has decreased about 80 percent from the height of the Cold War, when the United States had 450,000 service members serving at some 1,200 bases, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, the U.S. European Command commander and supreme allied commander for Europe, told Congress last month.

Today, Eucom consists of 64,000 joint forces, representing less than 5 percent of the U.S. military, spread across 21 major bases and smaller supporting sites, Stavridis reported.

Panetta announced details of planned changes in the U.S. military presence in Europe last year. They included the inactivation of two of the four brigade combat teams in Europe by fiscal year 2014, the 603rd Air Control Squadron in Italy in fiscal 2013 and the 81st Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, during fiscal 2013.

The 170th Infantry Brigade inactivation in Baumholder, Germany, is now complete, and the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany, is preparing to follow suit. Its last M1 Abrams tanks were shipped back to the United States from the port in Bremerhaven, Germany, last month.

Meanwhile, as Conger testified before Congress on April 24, an A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft whirred over the Joint Multinational Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area for the last time. The flight was the end of a 37-year legacy there as the 81st Fighter Squadron prepares to deactivate.

Based on reductions and planned reductions in the force presence in Europe, Conger told Congress DOD has plans to further reduce the number of bases needed to accommodate them.

The new review, he said, will help identify ways to consolidate operations where it makes sense with an eye toward increased efficiency as well as cost-savings.

“We are developing business case analyses for this task, taking operational impacts, return on investment, and military value into consideration,” Conger said. “By the end of this year, we plan to conclude with a fully vetted list of options from which the secretary can make strategic investment decisions.”

The process will help DOD realize long-term savings by eliminating excess infrastructure, recapitalizing where possible and closing or consolidating sites where feasible, he said.

“We are going to look for ways to leverage the various services together in order to maximize the amount of consolidation,” he told the Senate panel. “The results will ultimately validate our enduring European infrastructure requirements, providing an analytical basis to support sustainment funding and future recapitalization.”

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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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