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Defense officials present case for 2 more rounds of base closures

Mar. 7, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of Defense for installations and the environment, is shown testifying at a February 2010 hearing.
Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of Defense for installations and the environment, is shown testifying at a February 2010 hearing. (Staff file photo)

The Defense Department's top installations official pressed lawmakers Wednesday to approve for two new rounds of base closures one in 2013 and one in 2015.

Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of Defense for installations and the environment, said the five rounds of base closures from 1991 through 2005 avoid $12 billion annually in spending on base support, leasing and personnel enough to buy 300 Apache attack helicopters or four submarines every year. Robyn appeared at a hearing of the House Appropriations subcommittee for military construction.

The 2005 base closure round, which accounts for $4 billion annually of the savings, is not representative of the savings DoD can achieve in future rounds because the emphasis that year was not on savings but on reorienting the military to face new threats.

"Because the focus was on transforming installations to better support forces as opposed to saving money and space it is a poor gauge of the savings that the department can achieve through another BRAC round," Robyn said in her written testimony.

Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and the environment, said future rounds will help the Army eliminate excess capacity from force reductions. According to Robyn, the Army will see a force reduction of 72,000 over five years.

Terry Yonkers, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, said that, even after closing seven installations and realigning 63 others, the service's excess capacity costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

"This excess capacity can only be effectively eliminated by closing installations," Yonkers said in written testimony.

The 2005 round of base closures and realignments cost about $35 billion to implement, while all four previous BRAC rounds combined cost $26 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office.

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