President Donald Trump’s Pentagon spending plan for 2018 sent to lawmakers on Tuesday includes a new round of base realignments and closures, a proposal that the Defense Department contends could save billions of much-needed dollars but will likely meet stiff opposition on Capitol Hill.
The proposal, which is part of Trump’s Pentagon budget of $639.1 billion, asks Congress to approve a Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, in 2021. Similar requests sought in recent Pentagon budgets proposed by former President Barack Obama’s administration failed to gain any traction, as many lawmakers oppose BRAC, citing potential harms to communities surrounding military bases.
But Pentagon budget documents state the Defense Department holds about 20 percent more infrastructure than is necessary to operate effectively. A BRAC round, which is now barred by law, could potentially save $2 billion annually for the Defense Department, according to Pentagon estimates.
John Roth, who is performing the duties of Pentagon comptroller, said Tuesday that he wanted to “foot stomp” the department’s desire for a BRAC in 2021, but in order to accomplish that planning must begin this year.
“All we’re asking for at this stage is the authority,” Roth told reporters at the Pentagon. “We can’t even do the detailed analysis under current law.”
It has been more than a decade since Congress last authorized the Pentagon to conduct a BRAC. That BRAC, initiated in 2005, was the largest and costliest ever conducted, resulting in the closure of about two dozen major military installations across the United States and the restructuring of dozens more.
Other BRAC rounds occurred in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995.
Pentagon officials have said the savings since the 2005 BRAC have exceeded upfront costs associated with the closures and realignments. It was estimated to cost $21 billion. It reached $35 billion.
But Roth said Tuesday that the Pentagon has saved roughly $12 billion a year as the result of BRACs.
“That is a gift that keeps giving,” he said.
By continuing to hold unneeded infrastructure, he said, the Pentagon is “forgoing a very significant opportunity” to save money that could instead be used for training, maintaining or acquiring new equipment or other capacities to rebuild military readiness that has been eroded during the last 16 years of constant war.
“We think we’re getting some signals from at least a couple of committees that are more amenable to it and so we will be pushing that pretty hard,” Roth said.
In fact, some members of Congress have signaled they could be open to such a request, including the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., said at a committee hearing in January that they were looking into BRAC’s potential to save the Pentagon money.
“I think we have to examine all of the options that we have to make our military, our defense at the lowest possible cost to the American taxpayers,” said McCain, the committee’s chairman. “Right now we do have excess properties and facilities, and I think we need to look at it.”
BRAC has the full support of at least one powerful lawmaker. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., this year reintroduced legislation to allow the Pentagon to conduct future BRACs. Smith is the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
That committee’s chairman, however, remains skeptical about closing bases. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said Monday that cutting bases could impact the military’s relationship with civilian society.
“We talk a lot about BRAC,” Thornberry said. “If you significantly reduce the number of communities that have military bases near them, how does that affect the relationship between civilian sector and the military? It may [hurt it.]”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid $13,000 over a three-month period for a senior official's biweekly commute to Washington from his home in California, according to expense reports obtained by ProPublica.
Staff Sgt. John Eller conducts pre-flights check on his C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 3 prior to taking off from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii for a local area training mission. Sgt. Eller is a loadmaster from the 535th Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)
CUCUTA, Colombia — The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure Saturday on beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, dispatching U.S. military planes filled with humanitarian aid to this city on the Venezuelan border.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.
President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.
A pair of U.S. Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat aircraft from Fighter Squadron VF-211 Fighting Checkmates in flight over Iraq in 2003/Department of Defense
Since the sequel to the 1986 action flick (and wildly successful Navy recruitment tool) Top Gun, was announced, there's been a lot of speculation on what Top Gun: Maverick will be about when it premieres in June 2020. While the plot is still relatively unclear, we know Tom Cruise will reprise his role as Naval aviator Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, and he'll be joined by a recognizable costar: The iconic F-14 Tomcat.
It looks like the old war plane will be coming out of retirement for more than just a cameo. A number of recently surfaced photos show an F-14 Tomcat aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, alongside Cruise and members of the film's production crew, the Drive's Tyler Rogoway first reported earlier this week.