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Major Realignments to Require Congressional Notification under Defense Bill

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  • January 2, 2012
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The Defense Department will be required to provide Congress two weeks notice before reducing by more than 1,000 the number of military personnel assigned to an installation, under language in the final version of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill approved by Congress last month.

Along with the notice, DOD will need to submit a justification for the realignment and an evaluation of the local strategic and operational impact of the reduction in forces. The requirement will 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, according to section 2864 of the conference agreement (H.R. 1540).

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) added language similar to the provision to the House version of the authorization bill in response to last year’s recommendation by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates to shutter Joint Forces Command. The department asserted that the proposal did not trigger the limits in 10 U.S.C. Sec. 2687, a rarely used statute allowing base closures and realignments when a BRAC round is not under way. DOD also refused to comply with Forbes’ requests for information justifying the decision.

Section 2687 incorporates similar language regarding the number of civilian personnel affected by a proposed realignment. The statute requires congressional notice before DOD can carry out 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.

The conference report for H.R. 1540 is available on the website of the House Rules Committee.

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