BRAC Day

Now that the Pentagon has released the official list detailing 33 major base closures, the affected communities begin their fight to keep them open.

The Report

Fast Facts

  • 150 military installations from Maine to Hawaii would be closed.
  • That includes 33 major bases.
  • It includes more than 100 smaller facilities, including scores of Reserve and National Guard installations.
  • Plan would result in a net loss of 29,005 military and civilian jobs at domestic installations.
  • Overall, Rumsfeld proposes pulling 218,570 military and civilian positions out of some U.S. bases while adding 189,565 positions to others.
  • Closures and downsizings would occur over six years starting in 2006.
  • This is the first round of base closures in a decade.
  • There’s been an intense struggle by communities to save their facilities.

MAJOR CLOSURES

  • Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico would lose more than 2,700 jobs.
  • The Naval Station in Ingleside, Texas would lose more than 2,100 jobs.
  • Fort McPherson in Georgia would lose nearly 4,200 jobs.
  • The Naval Station in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which barely survived previous base closure rounds. That facility would lose 844 military jobs and 112 civilian jobs.

MAJOR GAINS

  • The Army’s Fort Bliss in Texas.
  • The Naval Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia.
  • Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

CONNECTICUT

  • Suffers the biggest loss in terms of jobs.
  • Rumsfeld proposes closure of the Submarine Base in New London, which would result in the loss of 7,096 military jobs and 952 civilian jobs.

TEXAS

  • Slated to lose 15 facilities.
  • Includes Naval Station Ingleside, the Red River Army Depot and several Reserve and Guard installations.

PENNSYLVANIA

  • Slated to lose 13 facilities.
  • Includes the Naval Air Station at Willow Grove.

CALIFORNIA

  • Hardest hit in the previous four rounds of closures.
  • Would see eleven installations shuttered — mostly Reserve and Guard units and Defense Department accounting offices.

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE

  • Slated for closure.
  • South Dakota’s second largest employer.
  • Home to 29 B-1B bombers — half the nation’s fleet of the aircraft.
  • Closure would deal a potential political setback to Republican freshman Senator John Thune, who had claimed he could protect the base if elected during his campaign to defeat former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
  • Thune on Friday called the Pentagon “flat wrong” in proposing to close Ellsworth, and he vowed to help lead the fight in the Senate to delay the entire round of closures. “We will continue to keep Ellsworth open,” Thune said.

WHY?

  • For years, the military has been operating more bases than it needs for the 1.4 million troops on active duty.
  • Congress has refused to authorize a new round of base closings since 1995 but reluctantly signed off on the idea last year after President Bush threatened to veto an entire spending bill. Lawmakers say it is unwise to close bases while U.S. troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Pentagon argues that the timing is perfect to enlist cost-cutting measures given pressures from the ballooning federal deficit and to reshuffle the stateside network of bases while it works to reshape the entire military.

WHAT’S NEXT?

  • A federal base closing commission must approve or change the Defense Department’s proposal.
  • Congress and President Bush must then agree to the plan.
  • The approval process will likely run into the fall.
  • In four previous rounds of closures starting in 1988, commissions have accepted 85 percent of bases the Pentagon recommended for closure or consolidation. This commission’s chairman, Anthony Principi, has promised not to rubber stamp Rumsfeld’s list.

PREVIOUS CLOSURES

  • Closures in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995 eliminated or realigned 451 installations, including 97 major ones.
  • Those closures resulted in a net savings to the government of about $18 billion through 2001. The Pentagon projects recurring annual savings of $7.3 billion from those four rounds combined.

OFFICIALS PREPARE TO FIGHT THE LIST

  • Lawmakers, local civic officials, lobbyists and base commanders will spend the next four months trying to convince the commission that their facilities shouldn’t be closed or consolidated.
  • States are worried because losing a military installation could hurt local economies.
  • Some states and congressional delegations are challenging Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s claim that he can shutter Army and Air National Guard installations without a governor’s consent.
  • At least one state, Illinois, is threatening to go to court to block Rumsfeld. Governors in several states including North Dakota, Delaware and Arizona have weighed in on the issue, and the New Jersey congressional delegation has asked that the Pentagon cease any attempt to close National Guard bases.

CONFLICTING LAWS

  • States and the Pentagon are relying on different laws as they stake out their positions.
  • Governors and congressional delegations cite a law that says in part that Army or Air National Guard units can’t be “relocated or withdrawn under this chapter without the consent of the governor of the state.”
  • The Pentagon argues that another law that authorizes this round of base closures takes precedence and allows Rumsfeld to close or downsize National Guard bases without getting approval from governors.
  • The commission charged with reviewing the Pentagon’s list has suggested a legal opinion may be necessary.
  • The Guard’s unique joint mission contributes to the legal confusion.
  • On a federal level, the Guard is part of the U.S. military force responsible for national security. The president can activate units for federal missions, including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Pentagon owns the weapons systems.
    The Guard also has a state role. Governors, through their adjutant generals, command both Guard forces during statewide emergencies like civil disturbances, floods, hurricanes or forest fires.

ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

  • The Army National Guard numbers 350,000.
  • Units are located at roughly 3,300 armories and other small installations scattered across the country.
  • Roughly 106,000 people are in the Air National Guard.
  • Its units are stationed at 95 Air Force bases and Air National Guard installations and on leased land at 78 civilian spots, including airports where airmen typically also provide firefighting, medical and security services. The National Guard Association of the United States, a nonpartisan organization representing nearly 45,000 current and former Guard officers, argues states should be consulted about base closings.

Here’s a more detailed list of the closures (PDF)

The Affected

  • Four Georgia bases recommended for closure
  • California bases face closures, 2,000 lost jobs
  • Peninsula Air Station on list
  • The 911th Air Force Reserve set to close
  • Minnesota, Wisconsin military bases targeted
  • Ellsworth in South Dakota on the list
  • Concord makes the closure list, City officials cheer the decision
  • Texas to gain jobs, but lose four bases
  • Portsmouth, Brunswick on list to be closed or scaled back
  • Ingleside in Texas set to cose

The Spared

The Quotes

“Our current arrangements, designed for the cold war, must give way to the new demands of the war against extremism and other evolving 21st century challenges,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in a statement today.

Michael Wynne, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said at a news briefing that the decision on which bases to close and which to keep open “is a very important component of the military transformation that President Bush asked us to conduct in 2001.”

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, called the recommendation to close the New London base, which would cost several thousands jobs, “irrational and irresponsible.” “It insults our history and endangers our future,” he told The Associated Press.

In New Jersey, the proposed closing of Fort Monmouth, and the accompanying loss of more than 5,000 jobs, was dread become reality for nearby Eatontown. “It’s a major disappointment,” Mayor Gerry Tarantolo told The A.P. “But obviously this is just the beginning of the fight. The battle starts today.”

Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia pledged “a vigorous defense” of the bases in his state, which would be hit by six closings if the Pentagon’s recommendation is followed by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, or BRAC. “The battle is not over,” the governor said at a news briefing. Governor Perdue offered a comment that could have come from any one of scores of politicians today: “When it’s you, it makes a big difference.”

John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he thought that Texas “comes out a net winner,” but that some individual communities in the Lone Star State would suffer. He said he would confer immediately with community leaders “to begin to collect the information that we need in order to press our case.”

“The Pentagon is flat wrong in failing to recognize Ellsworth’s importance to our nation and state,” Senator John Thune, a Republican, said of the 63-year-old installation. His Democratic colleague, Tim Johnson, agreed. “We’re not throwing in the towel at all,” he told The A.P.

“The Pentagon is flat wrong in failing to recognize Ellsworth’s importance to our nation and state,” Senator John Thune, a Republican, said of the 63-year-old installation. His Democratic colleague, Tim Johnson, agreed. “We’re not throwing in the towel at all,” he told The A.P.

More Reaction

Base Relignment and Closure Timeline

  • 1960s to 1987: The Pentagon closes about 60 bases as the United States reduces its overall post-World War II military posture. Congress is not consulted on a majority of the closings. It launches efforts to require that the Pentagon notify Capitol Hill of any future closings.
  • 1987-88: Then-Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, pushes through legislation creating the first independent Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The formal structure aims to shield lawmakers from community backlash and tries to keep the process from becoming too politicized.
  • 1988: The first Base Realignment and Closure Commission convenes: 16 major bases are closed.
  • 1990: The end of the Cold War and pressure to cut defense spending lead then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney to push Congress for additional rounds. The result: The 1990 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act, which calls for closure rounds in 1991, 1993 and 1995.
  • 1991: The 1991 commission closes 26 major bases and seven major research facilities; it realigns 19 bases.
  • 1993: The 1993 commission closes 28 major bases and realigns 13 major facilities.
  • 1995: The 1995 commission closes 27 major bases and realigns 17 facilities. Two controversial decisions regarding depots in California and Texas leave lawmakers suspect of the process, and although another round is recommended for 2001; it is not supported until 2005.
  • 2002: President Bush threatens to veto the 2003 defense spending bill unless it contains a provision for a 2005 closure round. Congress includes the closure language.
  • Dec. 31, 2003: The Pentagon publishes the eight “base closure selection criteria” it wants to use to judge the value of each base. After several months of public comment and congressional input, the criteria are made official.
  • Jan. 2004: The Pentagon begins “data calls” to each base, gathering information on the missions, personnel and equipment at each facility.
  • March 2004: The Pentagon publishes its “Force Structure Plan and Inventory” that outlines what sort of end strength it wants in each branch, and what sort of threats it is preparing for in the next 20 years. It also takes an inventory of the more than 600 facilities and 600,000 buildings it maintains.
  • May 2004: The House votes to delay the 2005 round, citing the war on terrorism. The same delay is narrowly defeated in the Senate. Bush threatens a second veto on 2005 funding if the defense bill does not contain base-closure authority. The final funding bill includes base closure.
  • Aug. 2004: The Pentagon announces that it intends to relocate 70,000 troops from European and South Korean posts and bring them back onto U.S. bases. The announcement re-ignites the debate on whether bases should be closed in 2005.
  • March 15, 2005: Bush nominates members for the 2005 closure commission, who are awaiting confirmation by Congress.
  • May 13, 2005: The “list” is released: 33 major bases recommended for closure, 29 recommended for realignment.
  • Week of May 16: The nine members of the commission will hold a series of hearings with the chiefs of each service branch to discuss the list’s recommendations.
  • May through Sept. 8, 2005: The nine members of the commission will visit the facilities recommended for closure, and hold a dozen regional meetings with communities affected by the Pentagon recommendations.
  • July 1, 2005: The comptroller general finishes examining the Pentagon’s recommendations and releases a report on the recommendations.
  • Sept. 8, 2005: The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure commissioners must publish final recommendations by this date. If the president approves, the recommendations are official 45 legislative days after his approval, unless Congress enacts a joint resolution of disapproval. If the president does not approve the list, then:
  • Oct. 20, 2005: Deadline for the commissioners to publish revised recommendations.
  • Nov. 7, 2005: Deadline for president to approve or disapprove recommendations. If he disapproves, or Congress enacts a joint resolution of disapproval, the commissioners must re-revise their recommendations.
  • April 15, 2006: The commission terminates.

Blog Comment

Comments

  1. Beltway Traffic Jam

    The daily linkfest:
    Jeff Quinton is talking about BRAC on MSNBC between 5 and 6 EST.
    Bill the PunditGuy has a BRAC round-up.
    Kevin McGehee was nuclear before nuclear was cool.
    Ace considers the tax implications of 666.
    julia montgomery is not, a…

  2. Daily Pundit says:

    Duck – Incoming!

    Here is the Pentagon List of Recommended Base Closings. UPDATE: James Joyner has some useful commentary. And Punditguy has a…

  3. The MUSC Tiger says:

    Jeff Quinton on MSNBC to Discuss BRAC

    I just received this in my email:
    Jeff Quinton of South Carolina is tentatively scheduled to appear on MSNBC today at 5:30 p.m. (EDT)

    Quinton, who publishes BackcountryConservative, will join Ron Reagan and Monica Crowley, discussing the reaction …

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