Arlington, Va. — Congress needs to grant the Defense Department sufficient authority to deal with its surplus of infrastructure, otherwise DOD will be forced to hollow out many of its installations and the economies of affected defense communities will suffer, according to a policy statement approved by ADC’s board of directors this week.
ADC issued the policy statement as the Pentagon and Congress remain in a years-long stalemate over the need for a series of cost-saving reforms even as the defense budget is subject to stringent spending caps and the military draws down from 12-plus years of war.
“In an environment of declining support for installations, the only solution is to confront head-on the nation’s excess military infrastructure,” Bob Murdock, ADC’s outgoing president, told the audience Wednesday at the Defense Communities National Summit.
“Our goal is not to see bases close, but to ensure we are spending the limited resources on the infrastructure most valuable to our national security. This will mean difficult decisions, and they could be painful. But the lack of a decision is turning out to be even more painful,” said Murdock, director of San Antonio’s office of military affairs.
A consensus has emerged among ADC members that the status quo will only serve to harm the viability of an increasing number of defense communities over time. This perspective has resulted in a set of overarching policy recommendations:
- The time is now for a clear strategy to deal with excess infrastructure; otherwise, the current budget situation will force the military services to hollow out much of their infrastructure or make decisions about realigning their facilities behind closed doors;
- To address the unprecedented challenges it faces, DOD needs the authority to decide how to most efficiently use the nation’s defense infrastructure;
- Decisions about infrastructure — and the communities ADC represents — must be made through a process that is independent, transparent and efficient;
- The infrastructure choices that are made must be driven by strategy but focused on reducing costs, rather than transforming the force; and
- If cuts are made, the federal government should be ready to support communities through the painful transition following base closures and realignments.
ADC is not endorsing a new BRAC round with its policy statement. However, the statement also includes a set of more detailed recommendations for updating the existing process for selecting candidate installations for closure and for disposing of excess property generated following base closures.
Read the policy statement on ADC’s website.