Hagel Vows to Trim Defense Infrastructure

As expected, the Obama administration will ask Congress to authorize a new round of base closures in 2017 as part of its fiscal 2015 budget request, marking the third year in a row DOD will ask permission to pare down its excess infrastructure.

“We cannot fully achieve our goals for overhead reductions without cutting unnecessary and costly infrastructure,” Hagel told reporters on Monday.

Mindful of DOD’s recent track record with such requests, Hagel pointed out that the department “has already been reducing infrastructure where we can.” Since 2000, defense infrastructure has been cut by 30 percent In Europe. An ongoing review of European infrastructure consolidation will recommend further cuts this spring, he said.  

And if Congress rejects the administration’s request once again at the same time it slashes the overall budget, Hagel said, “We will have to consider every tool at our disposal to reduce infrastructure.”

At a separate Pentagon briefing, senior officials, speaking on background, acknowledged that the department is not presenting a new argument for Congress. Instead, they referred to DOD’s overwhelming need for a way to align its infrastructure to the size of its future force.

“We need to be able to reduce some of our 25 percent or so excess infrastructure that we have,” one official said.

“There’s nothing new here, except that we have to be able to do this,” added a second official.

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