Committee Passes on BRAC, but Specter of Downsizing Is Not Far Behind
As expected, the Senate Armed Services Committee ignored the Obama administration’s request to authorize new BRAC rounds in completing its work on the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill Thursday, but the potential for future downsizings may not be far off, based on several provisions in the legislation.
The panel directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct two studies related to base closures and realignments, according to a summary of the bill provided by the committee. The bill text and committee report have not yet been released.
The first study requires GAO to review the systems and processes DOD uses to determine that infrastructure is excess to its needs.
For the second, the congressional watchdog agency would report “on the objective criteria to be used by DOD to make decisions relating to realignments of units at military installations that are not covered by the BRAC statute.”
The provision grew of the committee’s frustration with the Air Force’s attempt to pare the force structure of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, according to the summary. In several cases — most notably, Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station and Eielson AFB — lawmakers claimed the proposed realignments breached the thresholds in 10 U.S.C. Sec. 2687, a rarely used statute allowing base closures and realignments to be carried out when a BRAC round is not under way.
The statue requires the defense secretary to give Congress 60 days to review proposed actions meeting certain thresholds:
- the closure of an installation at which at least 300 civilian personnel are authorized; or
- a realignment involving a reduction by more than 1,000 — or by more than 50 percent — in the number of civilians authorized at the installation.
Lawmakers also included a one-year moratorium in the authorization bill on force structure changes that would alter an installation’s status in regards to the BRAC statute thresholds — most likely a reference to section 2687.