Base Closings Idea to Get Airing

The Senate Armed Services Committee this week is holding hearings on the Pentagon’s recent budget proposal to have another round of base closings and realignments, a process that typically causes the loss or movement of many thousands of civilian DoD jobs. Officials say that given the projected defense budgets over the next several years, the department will have excess capacity approaching 25 percent, and that if the process isn’t approved, it may have to resort to individual closing actions. The Army, for example, has said it is spending around $500 million a year just to maintain facilities it doesn’t need and that even more will become excess as it continues its troop drawdown. Under the base closings process, a special commission is formed and its recommendations take effect unless Congress votes to reject them as an entire package—an arrangement designed to create a presumption that the closings and realignments will happen. There have been a number of rounds of closings since the late 1980s—the most recent of which started in 2005 and was carried out over six years—and the next round would not begin until 2017 even under the Pentagon’s proposal. However, Congress has rejected similar calls for a new base closings round for several years running, citing the disappointing savings and the disruptions of prior rounds, in particular the most recent one.

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