Defense Bill Eliminates Army’s Authority to Shutter Arsenals

The Army secretary no longer can rely on a pre-Civil War authority to close arsenals without congressional approval, after President Obama signed the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill into law last week.

The provision, originally part of the version of the legislation passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee, eliminates the ability of the secretary of the Army to close any arsenal considered unnecessary. The Army has five arsenals: Picatinny, N.J.; Redstone, Ala.; Rock Island, Ill.; Rocky Mountain, Colo.; and Watervliet, N.Y.

In the joint explanatory statement accompanying the annual policy bill, the Armed Services committees note the need for the Army to balance peacetime requirements to operate its arsenals efficiently with the ability to surge production in response to a defense contingency.

“We note that it shall be the goal of the secretary of the Army, in managing the workload of the arsenals, to maintain critical capabilities and ensure cost efficiency and technical competence in peacetime, while preserving the ability to provide an effective and timely response to mobilizations, national defense contingency situations, and other emergent requirements,”  the lawmakers state.

The text of H.R. 3979 and joint explanatory statement are available online. The provision on arsenals is section 323.

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