During remarks introducing a conference session devoted to the benefits of partnering with the public and private sector, the Army’s top installations official made it clear there is no substitute for a new BRAC round when it comes to efficient management of the service’s scarce resources.
“In order to right-size our infrastructure and footprint in line with force reductions, we need BRAC authorization from Congress,” Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment, said Wednesday at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting.
“A smaller army needs a smaller footprint,” she said, citing the Army’s ongoing effort to consolidate its European infrastructure. The service is on pace to reduce its force structure in Europe by more than 45 percent by the end of 2016.
Forces based in the United States are not scheduled to decline nearly that much, but cuts already announced by the Army, along with deeper reductions in the service’s end strength expected if sequestration continues, would result in a significantly smaller force based in the United States. The Army now is slated to eliminate 10 brigade combat teams and 80,000 soldiers from its end strength by fiscal 2015, yielding an active-duty force of 490,000 personnel. And if Congress fails to roll back sequester cuts set to go into effect in the coming years, the Army is expected to consider further reductions of between 40,000 and 70,000 soldiers.
Hammack also made the argument that spending money on unneeded bases is depleting funds that could otherwise benefit warfighting.
“If underutilized bases are forced to stay open, we will be diverting resources from critical readiness programs into base operations, so we must manage our infrastructure in line with our resources,” Hammack said.