Air Force Prepared to Close Bases in New BRAC Round, Top Officer Says
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said Friday that he supports DOD’s proposal to ask for another base closure round, given the failure of the last BRAC to eliminate any of the service’s installations, along with the dwindling size of the service’s fleet.
“Since 2005 our inventory of aircraft, for example, has declined in the neighborhood of 500 aircraft. And so the presumption is — I think it’s a fair presumption — that there’s yet more excess infrastructure,” Schwartz told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
Prior to the 2005 round, officials believed that about 20 percent of the Air Force’s infrastructure was excess, he noted. No major Air Force installations were closed as a result of that round, although missions at a number of bases were realigned.
When asked about the potential outcome of new BRAC round, Schwartz said, “I think our expectation is that we would actually close bases in a future base closure round.”
The media briefing followed Thursday’s announcement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that President Obama will request Congress authorize use of the BRAC process. Panetta did not specify whether the administration would ask for just one, or more, rounds, but it has been widely reported that the president will ask for rounds in 2013 and 2015.
Schwartz also revealed that the size of the Air Force will decline by 10,000 airmen over the next five years. The move stems from the loss of the service’s force structure, however, and not as a consequence of budget cuts, he said.
Read the American Forces Press Service story.