Elected officials shouldn’t take anything for granted when it comes to preparing for the next round of base closures, Anthony Principi, chairman of the 2005 BRAC Commission, on Tuesday told a special committee of Georgia House members and local leaders in Columbus, Ga., working to protect Fort Benning.
“I would also strongly recommend that you not assume you’re safe, that you not assume that Fort Benning is safe,” said Principi, head of The Principi Group, a consulting firm working with the Matrix Design Group to assist the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce with its strategy to preserve missions at Fort Benning. “Assume that every base in the state of Georgia is at risk. I’ve seen bases in 2005 where hundreds of millions of dollars were invested by the taxpayer, and those bases were on the list for closure or major realignment. So it could happen anywhere,” he said, reported the Ledger-Enquirer.
Principi’s remarks came during a hearing of the Georgia House Military Affairs Committee, which is visiting the state’s defense communities to find out how the state can best support local efforts to promote neighboring installations. Principi urged the committee to act quickly.
“It’s critically important that you do everything possible, as you’re doing, in advance of the next BRAC round and before that list comes out, before that list is made public, to protect, preserve and enhance your military installations,” Principi said.
Improvements put in place after the Defense Department releases its list of recommended closures and realignments won’t help save your base, he said.
“The history of the previous four BRAC rounds also reveals to you that if an installation in your state makes the Defense Department’s list of closure or realignment, there’s an 85 percent chance your base is going to be closed or realigned,” Principi said. “So your key is to stay off the list.”
Cost savings will be a major focus of the next base closure round, with excess infrastructure a major target for budget cutters, he said. To best position Georgia’s installations, local and state officials should strive to illustrate their value to the military and its evolving missions. School systems, utility systems, affordable housing and other criteria could have a significant impact on decision makers, Principi said.