No One Wants to Touch the ‘Next BRAC’ Question

San Antonio — With a simple, “I’m not announcing another BRAC,” Joe Calcara, the Army’s deputy assistant secretary for installations and housing, dispensed with an audience member’s question as to whether the need to rein in spending across the military would prompt the Pentagon to launch a new round of base closures. And in short order, representatives of the Navy and Air Force echoed Calcara’s response during an ADC 2011 Winter Forum super session on how partnerships can advance installation efficiency.

Still, Roger Natsuhara, the Navy’s principal deputy assistant secretary for installations and environment, and Kathleen Ferguson, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for installations, pointed out that their services have excess capacity. In fact, the Air Force’s new “20/20 by 2020” initiative is intended to pare the service’s physical plant — made up of 80 major installations and a total inventory of 401 million square feet — by one-fifth by 2020. Such a cut would be equivalent to slashing 16 Air Force bases, Ferguson said. The other component of the Air Force’s initiative calls for reducing operating costs for the remaining portfolio by 20 percent by 2020.

Without another BRAC round on the horizon, the Air Force is looking for innovative ways to divest itself of the surplus.

The Army is in a somewhat different position, Calcara said. Determinations of the scope of the service’s excess largely will be driven by future decisions regarding the Army’s end strength. In the near term, the service’s U.S. posts will be forced to cope with a surge of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, taxing base support services. And as far as the notion that the Army has lots of excess capacity — “I don’t see it,” he said.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen
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