New BRAC Round Would Be Considered for Savings, Hagel Says
Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) said he would consider carrying out a base closure round as a prudent option to cope with budget constraints, according to the responses the nominee for defense secretary submitted to policy questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“As with industry, the department should examine its infrastructure and eliminate excess. The BRAC process is not perfect, but I believe BRAC is a fair and comprehensive way to right-size the department’s footprint, and is the best process identified to date,” Hagel wrote in response to the committee’s advance policy questions.
“If confirmed, I would have to look at the need for BRAC in the future,” he said.
Hagel drew a sharp contrast between the 2005 round and a potential new one.
“It is my understanding that the 2005 BRAC round was an anomaly, the only round conducted while the department was growing. It focused on transformation, jointness and relocating forces from overseas,” he noted.
“A future BRAC round is more likely to be like the rounds in 1993 and 1995 where excess capacity was reduced,” Hagel wrote.
And while the nominee was not asked to describe how DOD would support communities affected by a future base closure round, in response to a separate question Hagel said the Pentagon would work with communities that lose a brigade combat team as the Army trims its end strength to 490,000 personnel and eliminates eight brigades.
“I recognize that any force structure reduction will affect Army communities, and I expect that the Army and the Department of Defense will work with those communities to help minimize the impact,” he said.
Hagel also addressed the need to cut the defense budget, agreeing with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that sequestration would be “devastating,” but stating that the spending reductions already incorporated into the department’s long-term budget are achievable.
“I believe the department’s strategy can be accomplished within the constraints of the Budget Control Act. But only if the department has to retain the flexibility to adjust the size of its forces and infrastructure, and take[s] steps to control its costs, in accordance with the administration’s present strategy and budget,” he said.
Hagel will testify today before the Armed Services committee. Read the story in the Hill.