The Defense Department is still pushing for two more rounds of base realignments and closures despite opposition from Congress, according to a senior Pentagon official.
Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of Defense for installations and environment, said it’s typical for Congress to reject DoD requests for a BRAC on the first try. The Defense Department requested in its fiscal 2013 budget two new rounds of base closures — one in 2013 and one in 2015.
While Robyn would not speculate about whether the Defense Department plans to request the BRAC rounds again in the 2014 budget if it’s rejected in its 2013 budget request, she said she would be surprised if DoD didn’t continue to ask for it.
“In the past, DoD has had to make repeated requests before it finally gets a BRAC round,” Robyn said.
The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act May 18 that prohibits DoD from proposing, planning or carrying out a BRAC round in 2013. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Committee panel with jurisdiction over military installations, said she is willing to allow the closing of U.S. military bases overseas, but not domestic bases.
Robyn said that there was support within Congress for additional BRAC rounds, but that the supporters “are less vocal,” than the detractors. She said DoD asked for the rounds in 2013 and 2015 in order to prevent BRAC from becoming an election issue.
“You want to keep it as removed from politics as possible,” Robyn said.
She said BRAC gives DoD more authority to work with communities to help lessen the impact of base closures and to promote the economic development of closed installations. For example, BRAC allows DoD to convey buildings directly to the affected community instead of going through the traditional property disposal process, Robyn said.