Arlington, Va. — The House Armed Services Committee’s rejection over the past three years of the Pentagon’s request for additional base closures may not be permanent, according to the chair of the panel’s readiness subcommittee.
“We’re not saying never do a BRAC,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said Wednesday during the keynote lunch at the Defense Communities National Summit. But DOD should wait to conduct a new round until it first has taken a look at its long-term strategic and force structure needs.
“I believe we have to take this in the proper sequence,” Wittman said.
In fact, he pointed out, the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill passed by the House last month calls for the department to compare 20-year force structure plans for each of the services with an inventory of their installations to determine the level of excess infrastructure throughout the department.
The legislation also would require DOD to certify that each BRAC recommendation in a new round would have a payback period of six years or less, he said. The provision would provide each military service an opportunity to show whether it needs a new round of base closures and realignments.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who followed Wittman at the keynote lunch, said he opposed the Obama administration’s requests for a new BRAC because he doesn’t believe the current level of unused infrastructure is truly surplus.
It’s not being utilized, he said, because the White House has drawn down the military’s force structure to levels that jeopardize national security. “Obama is starting to disarm America,” Inhofe said.