DOD will need to prepare a more detailed analysis of its excess capacity than the last two it has completed since 2016, under language in the conference report to the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill. The department’s most recent analysis, from October 2017, estimated that 19 percent of its infrastructure is excess to its needs; it was based on the requirements to support the force structure from fiscal 2012. A March 2016 analysis, based on the needs of the force structure projected for FY 2019, estimated that 22 percent of the military’s infrastructure capacity was excess. Both of those estimates, though, relied on a parametric analysis which compared the target force structure and existing capacity to a 1989 baseline for various installation categories.
The new study, due by February 2020, calls for a different approach to estimate excess capacity. DOD first will need to prepare:
- a force structure plan for each service that is based on an assessment of probable threats to national security, and end strength levels and major military force units required under the FY 2018 defense authorization bill;
- a “categorical model” of installation capabilities needed to carry out the force structure plans based on the infrastructure, real property and facilities capabilities required and the current military requirements of the major military units.
The second part of Section 2821 calls for DOD to:
- assess the requirements needed to carry out the force structure plans compared to existing infrastructure, real property and facilities capabilities; and
- identify any deficit or surplus in infrastructure for each military department, and for locations within the continental United States.
The language would seem to require the Pentagon to identify specific bases with a deficit or surplus in capacity but outside of a BRAC round, defense officials are unlikely to take that step. Identifying installations with significant excess capacity almost certainly would trigger opposition to a new BRAC from lawmakers representing districts with bases cited in the study, Frederico Bartels, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said after the House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the measure in May. Such a step also could be expected to dampen the real estate market in communities outside bases with excess capacity, he said.
The Senate is expected to clear the conference report and send it to the president’s desk this week.
Alpha Stock Images photo by Nick Youngson