While the Defense Department continues to push for a new BRAC round as the most effective way to deal with excess infrastructure, the Army has begun consolidating personnel into its newest facilities and shuttering unused buildings to manage its surplus capacity.
The Army has ordered garrison and senior mission commanders to develop installation reduction plans, Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, told the House Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee last week.
“The strategy for right-sizing within the installation means that we consolidate personnel into the best-quality buildings and we are able to shut down those buildings, which means you modify the temperature controls, you don’t have lights that you have to manage, and you put them pretty much in cold storage,” Hammack said.
Officials believe the consolidation initiative will save the Army $140 million annually by mothballing about 40 million square feet of space. The service previously has said it spends an estimated $500 million to maintain excess or underutilized facilities.
“It’s going to take us a while to consolidate into the best buildings,” Hammack said. The Army estimates that 21 percent of its infrastructure will be excess to it needs by fiscal 2018 when its active-duty end strength drops to 450,000.
The Air Force, however, can’t take advantage of a similar consolidation effort since much of its excess space stems from a sharp drop in its aircraft inventory, Miranda Ballentine, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy, told Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.), the panel’s ranking member.
“A lot of our excess infrastructure has to do with iron, with actual aircraft, so we have extra parking spaces, excess hangar space, excess maintenance space,” Ballentine said. “And really, the only way that we can get at that excess is to consolidate by closing bases entirely. And that’s really where the big dollar savings come,” she said.
Written testimony and a webcast of the hearing on the installations, environment and energy budget request for fiscal 2017 submitted by DOD and the military services are available on the committee website.