In the Face of Opposition, Smith Vows to Advance Pentagon’s BRAC Request

DOD’s new analysis of excess capacity failed to persuade one of its key targets, House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), that it badly needs a new round of base closures.

Thornberry dismissed the study’s results — that the department’s excess capacity would be 22 percent under force levels projected for 2019 — over their reliance on a force structure he said is inadequate to meet the global threats confronting the nation.

“The capacity report the Pentagon belatedly delivered to Congress simply doesn’t tell us what we need to know. In envisioning a military far smaller than anyone thinks is wise, it fails to comply with the law as badly as it fails to justify a BRAC round,” Thornberry said in a written statement last Friday.

On Thursday, Rob Wittman (R-Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee, echoed Thornberry’s reaction to the study during his opening remarks to the markup of his panel’s portion of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill.

“This mark prohibits the department from implementing another round of Base Realignment and Closure in the absence of an accurate end strength assessment,” Wittman said.

Following the short markup, the Readiness Subcommittee approved its mark and its language rejecting DOD’s request to hold a BRAC round in 2019.

There is at least one voice on the committee who has vowed to push Congress to authorize additional base closures — Washington Rep. Adam Smith (D), the committee’s ranking member.

Following the release of DOD’s capacity analysis, Smith praised the report and made the case that allowing the military to shed some of its excess infrastructure will help pay for other critical needs.

“This report makes clear that DOD maintains a large amount of infrastructure that it does not need,” he said in a written statement. “Disposing of excess infrastructure through a transparent, deliberative, and independent process, such as another round of Base Realignment and Closure, can be done in a responsible manner that enhances military readiness and frees up funds that can be used to strengthen our military in other ways,” Smith said.

“I have consistently supported a responsible BRAC process that would produce exactly these kinds of efficiencies. I will continue to work toward legislation that authorizes an additional BRAC round, which also addresses the concerns and skepticism that linger from the 2005 BRAC,” he said.

DOD estimated that the Army has 33 percent excess capacity, the Air Force 32 percent and the Navy 7 percent.

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