Force reductions shrinking the Army’s active-duty end strength from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers by the end of fiscal 2018 will increase the portion of the service’s infrastructure considered excess to 21 percent, according to a rough estimate.
“And it’s only going to get worse as the Army declines in force structure,” Paul Cramer, deputy assistant secretary for installations, housing, and partnerships, told Federal News Radio.
Officials previously had said the Army’s excess capacity ranged between 12 and 28 percent in the United States, depending on facility category, with an overall average of 18 percent. That analysis was based on an active force of 490,000, a target the Army planned to reach at the beginning of the month.
With Congress refusing to allow DOD to shed some of its unneeded installations through a BRAC round, the Army faces a severe shortfall in funding to operate and sustain its facilities. To stretch its dollars further, Lt. Gen. David Halverson — assistant chief of staff for installation management and commander of Installation Management Command — recently signed an execution order directing commanders to consolidate personnel and activities into the newest buildings and attempt to vacate older facilities that are not being fully used.
Some unused buildings will be placed in a long-term mothball status, with others designated for eventual demolition, according to the story.
“People have a tendency just to expand into whatever buildings they have, but we’ve already lost 80,000 soldiers,” Halverson said. “We need to get them into facilities that optimize the space we have and not have to invest as much in the lower-quality. That’s a new initiative that we’ll be pushing pretty hard this year,” he said.
The problem for the Army is that a drop in an installation’s population will not result in a proportional reduction in the cost to operate the base due to the fixed costs required to keep things running.
“We’ve already reduced our force structure by 20 percent, and the cost of running our bases has not declined anywhere near that,” Andy Napoli, assistant for BRAC in the office of the assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, told Federal News Radio.
The service would need to shutter some installations completely to generate significant savings.
“The only way you can truly get after that is you have to close a few bases and realign the missions to the bases with higher military value. That gives you permanent savings, and the magnitude of savings you’d get with just a few bases would dwarf any amount of demolition we could do at all of our bases,” Napoli said.