The Pentagon cannot afford to wait any longer to harvest the savings from a new round of base closures, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in the written testimony he submitted to the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Thursday.
The earliest the Pentagon could carry out the next BRAC round is in 2019, Carter said. “Fourteen years since DOD was allowed to right-size its domestic infrastructure, which any business leader or citizen would think is ridiculous,” he said. “Now is the time to fix it.”
DOD’s fiscal 2017 budget request calls for a BRAC round in 2019; the department’s last several budgets had proposed holding the next round in 2017.
The department estimates it has over 20 percent excess infrastructure, Carter said. For Congress to ignore that DOD has “more bases in more places than we need,” while criticizing it for wasteful spending “is not only a sin of omission, but a disservice to America`s taxpayers,” according to the secretary’s testimony.
Carter acknowledged, however, that the study of excess infrastructure allowed in the FY 2016 defense authorization bill is “helpful.” That analysis is expected to be completed by late spring.
During Thursday’s hearing Carter highlighted the range of threats DOD faces, and the need to invest in new capabilities, reported DOD News. But the greatest risk to the department’s future would the prospect that stringent statutory spending caps are imposed once again.
“That’s why going forward the biggest concern to us strategically in the Congress is averting the return of sequestration next year so we can sustain all these critical investments over time,” Carter said.
Carter’s written testimony and a webcast of the hearing is available on the committee’s website.