House panel rejects BRAC request

walter reed

The consolidation of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center with the National Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., was part of the 2005 BRAC. The merger was completed in 2011, and the facility is now called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. (Army image)

A House subcommittee on May 23 rejected requests from Defense Department officials for another round of Base Realignment and Closure, introducing a provision into the 2014 defense authorization markup to prohibit it.

House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chairman Robert Wittman (R-Va.) cited several reasons for rejecting the requests: the current complexities in the defense landscape amid the Afghanistan drawdown, ongoing studies of the military's size and structure, the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review and Strategic Choices and Management Review and the upfront costs that would go into BRAC.

"We're prohibiting the department from proposing, planning or initiating another round of BRAC because it simply doesn’t make sense at this time – from any perspective – fiscal or otherwise," Wittman said in a statement. "We should focus on making informed decisions after we've had a chance to review the results and recommendations of the various reviews, and after we've held open hearings to fully evaluate and consider them. This is our job as members of the Armed Services Committee. It's premature to expend dollars we don't have to fix a problem we're not sure exists."

The $527 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2014 includes $2.4 billion over the next five years for the next round of BRAC; budget documents state the effort "would eventually save substantial sums."

Last month John Conger, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, echoed earlier calls from senior defense officials to implement another round of BRAC as the military seeks savings and efficiencies.

"Congress has already demanded these civilian personnel cuts, and if they are not made through BRAC, they will need to be made elsewhere," Conger stated in an April 25 Senate testimony. "The fundamental rationale for using the BRAC process to achieve these efficiencies is to enable DOD, an independent commission, the public, and Congress to engage in a comprehensive and transparent process to facilitate the proper alignment of our infrastructure with our mission."

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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