Congressional authority to shed unneeded facilities, including a new BRAC round, would go a long way toward helping the Army sustain its infrastructure amid tight budget constraints, Lt. Gen. David Halverson, the service’s assistant chief of staff for installation management, told lawmakers last month.
“The challenge we have is that we can’t optimize our investments or optimize if we don’t have some authorities to study, like a BRAC, and how we can move forward,” Halverson told the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee during a Dec. 3 hearing on the impact of reducing funding for infrastructure and installation support.
Halverson was responding to Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who asked how the Army’s estimate of excess infrastructure would change as its end strength drops.
The service estimates that 18 percent of its infrastructure is excess under its current active-duty strength of 490,000 soldiers.
“That is our best guess right now, and we have an order out for all of our garrison and our senior commanders to be able to look at their excess capacity,” Halverson said.
Readiness Chairman Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) pointed out that the new defense authorization bill directs the services to prepare a new capacity analysis. Without the authority to carry out a new BRAC round, DOD had been relying on the capacity analysis it conducted prior to the 2005 round since it had been prohibited from updating the earlier study.
“We’ve asked them to do a detailed analysis so we can truly look at what the capacity is, where there’s overcapacity on a service branch by service branch basis. So we should have that information for next year,” Wittman said.
The Army estimates its surplus capacity is forcing it to spend $480 million a year in operating costs unnecessarily, Halverson told O’Rourke. The Army’s end strength is slated to drop to 450,000 by the end of fiscal 2018, though. That would result in an estimated 21 percent excess capacity and $570 million in surplus facilities costs.
A decade ago, the 2005 round of base closures helped the Army improve the overall condition of its installations, including ranges and other facilities.
“What we’ve seen is that, with BRAC 2005, we had an increase, where we were from 19 percent up to 30 — 60 percent, and now we’re seeing a degradation of our readiness,” Halverson told the panel.
“So we are seeing a dip in our Q ratings in our facilities because of decreased funding, or ability to do the sustainment and the restoration and modernization that we do need in some of our facilities,” he said.
A webcast of the hearing is available on YouTube.