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Lawmakers Add Amendment to Tighten Restrictions on Non-BRAC Realignments

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  • May 20, 2012
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The Defense Department would be required to provide Congress 90 days’ notice, along with a detailed justification, before reducing by more than 1,000 the number of military personnel assigned to an installation, under an amendment to the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill adopted by the House Friday.

The amendment was sponsored by lawmakers from Alaska and southwestern Pennsylvania upset over force structure changes proposed by the Air Force as part of its FY 2013 budget request. The provision expands requirements Congress included in last year’s authorization bill to increase its oversight over major realignments proposed outside of BRAC.

The language directs DOD to submit an analysis of the costs and benefits of a proposed force reduction, and an evaluation “of the local economic, environmental, strategic and operational consequences.” The notice would need to be provided as part of the justification materials submitted with the department’s annual budget request.

The requirements would not apply during a BRAC round or if the president certifies that the realignment is needed for reasons of national security or a military emergency.

Alaska Rep. Don Young (R) offered the amendment in response to the Air Force’s plan to move an F-16 squadron from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, located near Anchorage.

“My amendment is necessary in ensuring that a ‘backdoor BRAC’ doesn’t take place,” Young said in a written statement. “The data must match up with the rationale — especially in the case of Eielson. The Defense Department must dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ to prove to me, and all Alaskans that the F-16 move is in the best interests of this country.”

The congressional delegation representing the Pittsburgh area was similarly motivated to block DOD from carrying out major realignments without congressional input — one of the Air Force’s budget proposals would have shuttered Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station.

For more information about the defense authorization bill, H.R. 4310, visit the Armed Services Committee website.

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