Military Base Closures: Implementing the 2005 Round
CRS Report for Congress
Military Base Closures:
Implementing the 2005 Round
Updated June 1, 2005
David E. Lockwood
Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Military Base Closures:
Implementing the 2005 Round
On November 15, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the
first steps in implementing the new 2005 base realignment and closure (BRAC) law.
These included development of a force structure plan, comprehensive inventory of
military installations, and establishment of criteria for selecting bases for closure and
The Secretary of Defense submitted a report to Congress on March 23, 2004,
confirming the need for a further BRAC round and certifying that an additional round
of closures and realignments would result in annual net savings, over a period ending
no later than FY2011.
On May 20, 2004, the House of Representatives voted 259 to 162 to delay base
closings until 2007. In response to this action, the White House immediately released
a statement declaring that the Secretary of Defense, and other senior advisers, would
urge the President to veto any bill that “weakened, delayed, or repealed” the current
base closure authority.
On October 8, 2004, Senate and the House conferees reached agreement on the
National Defense Authorization Act for FY2005, which included continued support
of DOD’s authority to conduct a round of closures and realignments in 2005. Senator
John Warner stated that it was essential to allow DOD to complete its effort to reduce
the size of its infrastructure.
On March 15, 2005, the President appointed nine members to serve on the 2005
BRAC Commission. In doing so, he consulted with leading Members of Congress.
In addition, the President chose Anthony A. Principi to serve as the chairman of the
new BRAC Commission.
Once formally in-place, the Commission’s next step was to institute a series of
local, D.C. area hearings to collect general information on DOD’s force structure
needs and goals. It will be followed later by regional hearings at locations throughout
the country. At least one commissioner will be required to visit each base on DOD’s
On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon announced that it would close 33 major U.S.
military bases and realign 29 others — in a move to consolidate forces and save
almost $50 billion over 20 years. The overall number of existing U.S. major bases,
according to DOD, is 318. In addition, 775 smaller facilities are expected to be closed
This report will be updated as needed.
In troduction ......................................................1
Early Requirements and Developments.................................2
Force Structure Plan............................................2
BRAC Developments: 2003.........................................3
BRAC Developments: 2004.........................................6
DOD Implements Selection Criteria...............................6
DOD Sends Report to Congress..................................7
Congress Considers BRAC Delay.................................8
Community Concerns about BRAC...................................10
Local Efforts to Prevent Closures................................10
Addressing the Encroachment Issue..............................11
U.S. Overseas Basing Initiative......................................12
BRAC Developments: 2005........................................14
The 2005 BRAC Commission...................................14
Debate On Status of the National Guard...........................16
DOD Lowers Estimate of Excess Capacity.........................16
Effort Made to Block Nominations...............................17
Base Closure Commission Hearings..............................17
Pentagon Delivers 2005 BRAC List..............................18
The 2005 BRAC Timeline..........................................22
List of Tables
Table 1. Results of BRAC-Related Actions............................19
Table 2. Net Jobs Lost and Gained...................................19
Table 3. The 2005 BRAC Timeline...................................22
Military Base Closures:
Implementing the 2005 Round
On November 15, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued a
memorandum to senior staff regarding the implementation of the new base2
realignment and closure (BRAC) round authorized by Congress in 2001. He
emphasized that, as part of the Department of Defense’s transformation initiative,
“new force structures must be accompanied by a new base structure,” and added that
“BRAC 2005 should be the means by which we reconfigure our current infrastructure
[bases] into one in which operational capacity maximizes both war fighting capability
and efficiency.”3 He, then, directed that the process begin immediately. It was, in4
effect, the formal launching of DOD’s 2005 base closure implementation process.
The Secretary of Defense also revealed in his memo a particularly important
BRAC 2005 objective, namely examining and implementing opportunities for greater
joint activity as a means of achieving a more efficient base structure. He explained
that prior BRAC rounds had analyzed functions on a unique service-to-service
approach and, therefore, did not benefit from joint examination of functions that
cross services. It would appear, for example, that DOD’s network of research
laboratories, medical facilities, maintenance depots, and testing and evaluation
facilities will become prime candidates for consolidation in the next round.
In respect to the selection process, Secretary Rumsfeld declared that DOD
would not make any binding closure or realignment decisions prior to the submission
of its final recommendations to the new BRAC commission in May 2005. It should
be noted, however, that his statement left open the possibility (if not likelihood) of
DOD conducting internal, non-binding deliberations.
To underscore the importance of the new BRAC round, Secretary Rumsfeld has
created two Office of the Secretary of Defense-level groups to oversee and operate
the BRAC 2005 process. First of these is the Infrastructure Executive Council (IEC),
1 For prior information on BRAC rounds, see CRS Report RL30051, Military Base
Closures: Agreement on a 2005 Round, by David E. Lockwood, 15 pp.
2 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (P.L. 107-107), Sections 3001-
3 U.S. Department of Defense, Secretary of the Army, Memorandum, “Transformation
Through Base Realignment and Closure” (Nov. 15, 2002), [http://www.defenselink.mil/
4 Hereafter, any reference in this report to “closure” may also include “realignment.”
chaired by the Deputy Secretary. It serves as the policy-making and oversight body
for the entire process. The second, subordinate group is the Infrastructure Steering
Group (ISG), chaired by the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Testing, and
Logistics). It will be responsible for the detailed direction necessary to conduct the
BRAC 2005 analyses.5
Early Requirements and Developments
In implementing the 2005 round, DOD’s first three requirements are (1) to
develop a force structure plan, (2) to conduct a comprehensive inventory of military
installations, and (3) to establish criteria for selecting bases for closure or
Force Structure Plan
In regard to the first, the Secretary of Defense must develop a force structure
plan based on an assessment of the probable threats to the national security over a 20-
year period, beginning with FY2005. He is also required to estimate the end-strength
levels and the major military force units needed to meet such threats. Finally, the
Secretary of Defense must estimate the anticipated level of funding that will be
necessary to carry out the plan.
Second, the Secretary of Defense is required to conduct a comprehensive
inventory of U.S. military installations. He must, under the terms of the new BRAC
law, determine the anticipated need and availability of military installations outside
the United States. In addition, the Secretary of Defense must give special
consideration to any efficiencies that might be gained from the use of joint tenancy
by more than one branch of the Armed Forces at a military installation.
Third, the Secretary of Defense must develop a set of criteria for selecting bases
for closure and realignment. He must address a broad range of military, fiscal, and
environmental considerations likely to affect closure and realignment decisions. In
prior rounds, DOD assigned highest priority to four criteria related to military value.
An additional four included return on investment, economic impact, community
infrastructure, and environmental impact. The eight selection criteria as proposed for
the 2005 round are, in almost every essential detail, the same as those adopted and
implemented in the three past rounds.
5 See CRS Report RS21822, Military Base Closures: DOD’s 2005 Internal Selection
Process, by Daniel Else and David Lockwood, April 21, 2004, 6 pp.
The bolded sections of DOD’s new draft criteria below reveal the pertinent
additions, as published in the Federal Register on December 23, 2003 (vol. 68, no.
1. Current and future mission requirements and impact on operational readiness
of DOD’s total force, including the impact on joint warfighting, training, and
2. Availability and condition of land, facilities, and associated airspace
(including training areas suitable for maneuver by ground, naval, and air forces
throughout a diversity of climate and terrain areas and staging areas for the use
of the Armed Forces in homeland defense missions) at both the existing and
potential receiving locations.
3. Ability to accommodate contingency, mobilization, and future total force
requirements at both the existing and potential receiving locations to support
operations and training.
5. Extent and timing of potential costs and savings, including the number of
years, beginning with the date of completion of the closure or realignment, for
the savings to exceed the costs.
6. Economic impact on existing communities in the vicinity of military
7. Ability of both existing and potential receiving communities’ infrastructure
to support forces, missions, and personnel.
8. Environmental impact, including the impact of costs related to potential
environmental restorations, waste management and environmental compliance
Significant features of the new list include (1) reassertion of the overall
importance of “military value,” (2) increased emphasis on joint war-fighting,
training, and readiness, and (3) dependence on local communities to support military
BRAC Developments: 2003
In mid-January 2003, two senior members of the House Armed Services
Committee (Representative Gene Taylor and Representative Joel Hefley) expressed
the desire to either change or repeal the new base closure law (P.L. 107-107).6
Several months later, on May 6, Representative Hefley, chairman of the House
Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, announced he would be receptive to a
postponement, but would not offer an amendment.7
On May 9, 2003, the Readiness Subcommittee approved its part of the defense
authorization bill (H.R. 1588), in which it adopted an amendment by Representative
Taylor to repeal the 2005 round. A few days later, however, the full House Armed
Services Committee voted to restore the 2005 closings. The chairman,
Representative Duncan Hunter, argued that killing the base-closing round would only
lead to a veto by the President and make the committee irrelevant.8
On May 21, 2003, the White House threatened to veto any bill if it included
language delaying or cancelling DOD’s ability to conduct another round of closures.9
On May 22, 2003, the House passed its defense authorization bill, including a
provision that would exempt half of domestic bases from being closed. The bill,
also, would require the Department of Defense to maintain a sufficient number of
bases to handle a surge in military forces in the event of a future crisis. In final
conference action in early November 2003, the “exemption” initiative failed, while
the “surge” initiative succeeded (H.Rept. 108-354).10
Also, on May 22, 2003, the Senate passed its defense bill (S. 1050). It did not
contain any significant domestic base closure language, but did provide authority to
create a commission to review overseas bases. In later conference action, however,
the overseas bases initiative was dropped.11 The issue, nevertheless, remained alive.
On November 4, 2003, the Military Construction Appropriations Act for FY2004
(Section 128) provided for a commission of eight members to review overseas bases.
It further stipulated that appointment of the members must be made no later than 45
days after enactment of the act.12
On June 4, 2003, Senator Byron Dorgan offered an amendment to repeal the
authority for a new base closure round in 2005. He said he could not think of a worse
time to consider such a step. Senator Trent Lott, a co-sponsor of the amendment,
concurred. He explained that “At this time, we have not properly assessed our needs.
We are at war. It sends a terrible signal, and it is bad for the economy.” He later
6 Richard H.P. Sia, “Lawmakers Seek to Stop Next Base-Closing Round,” Congress Daily,
January 16, 2003.
7 “Panel May Seek Base Closing Delay,” Congress Daily, May 7, 2003.
8 David Morris, “House Committee Votes for Base Closings in 2005,” Congress Daily, May
9 Carolyn Skorneck and Pat Towell, “House, Senate Pass Different Versions of Defense
Authorization Measure,” CQ Today, May 23, 2003.
10 Congressional Record, daily ed., November 6, 2003, H10659.
11 P.L. 108-136, signed November 24, 2003.
12 H.Rept. 108-342 (Nov. 4, 2003), pp. 10-12.
suggested that, perhaps, delaying the next round to 2006 might be worth
considering.”13 In opposition, Senator Saxby Chambliss said that “putting off the
BRAC 2005 round now will only prolong the anxiety in our communities
surrounding our military installations.”14 In the final vote, the amendment was
defeated 42 to 53 — a margin that many might regard as surprisingly close.
In contrast, letters sent to the committees by Pentagon officials strenuously
argued that DOD was overburdened with an infrastructure that was simply no longer
needed to support the size of the U.S. forces. The Secretary of Defense stressed that
“BRAC provides the opportunity to configure our infrastructure to maximize
capability and efficiency.”15
On July 1, 2003, DOD officials issued a memo reorganizing its installations and
environment office in anticipation of the impending 2005 base realignment and
closure round. It created a new BRAC directorate that would identify which bases
to eliminate. In the past, DOD has acceded to the individual services’
recommendations on closures. In the new round, it appears the Office of the Secretary
of Defense is poised to exercise a much greater degree of control.16
The House defense appropriations bill for 2004 included a provision that would
close Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, Puerto Rico’s largest employer. Several
Members of Congress insisted that without the live-fire bombing range on Vieques
island, there was little military value in retaining the military base.17 The Senate’s
appropriations bill did not contain language for closing the base.
Under Section 8132 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for
FY2004 (P.L. 108-87), the Secretary of the Navy was directed to close the Naval
Station Roosevelt Roads not later than six months after its enactment, which occurred
on September 30, 2003. Virtually all the military activity at the Naval Station has
ceased, and military units and functions have been transferred to other installations
located in the southeastern continental United States.
The act also required that the closure be carried out in accordance with the
procedures and authorities contained in the relevant Defense Base Closure and
Realignment Act of 1990, as currently amended.
On December 23, 2003, the Pentagon issued its initial criteria for selecting
bases for closure and realignment, sending it to the Federal Register for public
13 Congressional Record, daily ed., June 4, 2003, S7288.
14 Ibid., S7292.
15 Ibid., S7289.
16 “Dubois Reforms I&E Office in Bid to Elevate DOD BRAC Influence,” Inside Defense,
July 1, 2003.
17 H.Rept. 108-187, July 2, 2003, p. 317.
comment as required by law.18 DOD stated that it would take into consideration
military installations’ current and future capabilities, cost and manpower, location
availability, economic impact on communities, ability to support personnel, and
environmental impact. In addition, the President was required to certify that there
was need for a new BRAC round and that there would be an annual net savings by
the end of FY2011.
BRAC Developments: 2004
DOD Implements Selection Criteria
On January 6, 2004, the Department of Defense requested commanders of
installations in the United States, its territories and possessions, to gather information
as part of the 2005 base closure round. It stated, however, that no information would
be released to the public until after DOD had delivered its list to the independent base
closure Commission in the spring of 2005. It also noted that in the past four
completed rounds, 85% of DOD’s closures and realignments were approved by the
On January 22, 2004, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, chairman of the Military
Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, sent a letter to the Pentagon stating that
“While military value is important to assessing the necessity of installations, the
DOD should also conduct a comprehensive study of U.S. facilities abroad and
determine whether existing base structures and locations meet the needs of current
and future missions. It would be unwise to close or realign domestic bases that may
be needed for troops returning from outdated facilities abroad.”
Senator Hutchison, further, stated that “The DOD should also consider how
closing or realignment of installations affects our homeland security. The current
draft criteria, very similar to that proposed in the previous BRAC rounds, do not fully
reflect the security of issues our country faces in the wake of September 11, 2001.
Our nation is not dealing with the same threats as we were in 1995 and, therefore, we
must develop new strategies to insure the military does not close a base only to later
realize its costly mistake.”20
On February 12, 2004, the Pentagon published its final criteria for the 2005
round. The criteria were identical to the initial draft version, leading some who took
advantage of the opportunity to comment on the process to criticize the Department’s
selection. The principal concern among commentators regarding the final criteria
seemed to be its overall vagueness. Representative Sam Farr raised the issue on the
18 68 Federal Register, no. 246 (Dec. 23, 2003), pp. 74221-74222.
19 U.S. Department of Defense, News Release 06-004: “Department of Defense Begins
Gathering Data for BRAC 2005” (Jan. 6, 2004), [http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2004/
20 Press Release by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, “Homeland Security, Overseas Basing
Should Be in BRAC Criteria,” Jan. 22, 2004, [http://hutchison.senate.gov/prl483.htm].
same day in the House Appropriations Subcommittee hearings on military
construction. He stated that the criteria were so broadly constructed that they could
suit almost any desired outcome.21
In reply to this charge, the Pentagon explained that, “The inherent mission
diversity of the military departments and defense agencies makes it impossible for
DOD to specify detailed criteria. Broad criteria allow flexibility of application across
a wide range of functions within the Department.”22
The 2005 base closure law provided Congress with the option of passing an act
of disapproval regarding the final selection criteria. It set a deadline of March 1,
2004, for undertaking such an action. The deadline having passed without
congressional action, DOD’s finalization of the selection criteria for closing bases
automatically took place.
DOD Sends Report to Congress
On March 23, 2004, as part of the budget justification required by Congress
each year, the Secretary of Defense submitted a detailed report on the need for a
further BRAC round. He also certified that an additional round of closures and
realignments would result in annual net savings for each of the military departments,
beginning not later than FY2011.23 Absent the certification, the 2005 base closure
round would have been cancelled.
In the report, DOD developed a long-range force structure plan based on the
probable threats to national security from 2005 to 2025. It also constructed a
comprehensive installation inventory, arrayed by military department and by active
and reserve component installations. To assess the amount of excess infrastructure
anticipated in FY2009, DOD used the parametric analytical approach that it used in
a similar earlier 1998 assessment.24
The DOD report focused on major U.S. installations across broad categories,
rather than the entire inventory, which includes myriad smaller sites. In addition,
DOD weighed the anticipated continuing need for installations outside the United
States, as well as any efficiencies that might be gained from joint tenancy. Also,
DOD used its experiences with prior rounds to assess the economic effects of base
closures and realignments on communities in the vicinity of affected installations.
21 U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Military
Construction, Hearing on FY2005 Military Construction Appropriations (BRAC), Feb. 12,
22 Elizabeth Kenny, “Base Closure Criteria Lists Finalized,” Portsmouth Herald, Feb. 13,
23 U. S. Department of Defense. “Report Required by Section 2912 of the Defense Base
Closure and Realignment Act of 1990, as amended through the National Defense
Authorization Act for FY2003,” Mar. 2004, p. 1.
24 Ibid., p. 2.
The report estimated that DOD possessed, in aggregate, 24% excess installation
capacity. It pointed out, however, that “only a comprehensive BRAC analysis can
determine the exact nature and location of potential excess.”25 It then went on to
explain that DOD would conduct a thorough review of its existing infrastructure in
the coming year, ensuring that all installations will be treated equally and evaluated
on their continuing military value to the nation.26
The release of DOD’s report was followed, on March 25, 2004, by a House
Armed Services Military Readiness subcommittee hearing on base closures, at which
some Members voiced strong opposition to the timing of the new round. Others were
more conflicted — wanting to support the war on terror, on the one hand, but also
concerned about the many open-ended challenges facing DOD and the country, on
On the same day, the General Accounting Office issued a report on the new
BRAC round. It stated that DOD’s 2005 selection criteria followed a framework
similar to that employed in the four prior rounds. It also said that the criteria were
generally sound but pointed out that DOD needed to consider, in its analyses, the
absence of total agency-related and environmental costs.28
Congress Considers BRAC Delay
On March 24, 2004, Representative Solomon Ortiz introduced legislation (H.R.
4023), calling for a two-year delay in implementing a new BRAC round. His bill
was supported by 30 co-sponsors. He said: “This is not the time to be shutting down
bases.” He noted that the military had on-going operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
and might move troops home as it closes down bases overseas.29
On March 25, 2004, Representative Joel Hefley, chairman of the House Armed
Services Military Readiness Subcommittee, conducted a lengthy oversight hearing
on BRAC. The discussions revealed significant emerging bipartisan support for
delaying the BRAC process.
On April 1, 2004, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and
Management Support held hearings that included discussion of the 2005 base closure
round. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Raymond DuBois argued that any delay
in the BRAC process would upset the ongoing global posture review aimed at
25 Ibid., p. 3.
27 U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Military
Readiness, Hearing on 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Process, March 25,
28 U.S. General Accounting Office,.Military Base Closures: Observations on Preparations
for the Upcoming Base Realignment and Closure Round (GAO-04-558T), March 25, 2004,
29 Amy Klamper, “House Committee Ponders Approach to Base Closings,” Government
Executive, March 22, 2004.
determining which bases in the United States would receive the overseas force
structure. He emphasized that “We must do the overseas piece first ... and by the end
Several weeks later, on May 6, 2004, the HASC subcommittee approved a two-
year delay that would postpone the next base closure round until 2007. Its chairman,
Representative Joel Hefley, expressed concern over the timing. “It would be a bad
mistake to do it in the middle of a war,” he said.
On May 12, 2004, the full House Armed Services Committee addressed the
base closure issue. Representative Gene Taylor offered an amendment to terminate
the 2005 round. The committee, however, adopted a more moderate stand offered
by Representative Joel Hefley. His substitute amendment called for delaying the
round from 2005 to 2007.
On May 18, 2004, Senator Trent Lott introduced an amendment to delay the
2005 BRAC round. He explained that DOD should first close its bases overseas
before closing those at home. The Senator was supported by a large number of
bipartisan colleagues, but he also confronted strong opposition from Senator John
Warner and other key leaders. The amendment was narrowly defeated by a vote of
Two days later, on May 20, 2004, the full House voted 259 to 162 to delay base
closings until 2007. In response to this action, the White House immediately released
a statement declaring that the Secretary of Defense, and other senior advisers, would
urge the President to veto any bill that weakened, delayed, or repealed the current
base closure authority.
On September 23, 2004, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on
global force posture, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld reiterated the threat of a veto.
He further stated that the timing of the planned return of about 70,000 U.S. forces
from overseas, along with the scheduled BRAC round, were inextricably linked.32
In the same hearing, Senator John Warner, chairman of the defense committee,
warned that communities were already spending millions of dollars hiring experts to
BRAC-proof their installations. To perpetuate the situation for two more years, he
stressed, would be an enormous burden to communities on top of the high cost of
keeping open bases no longer needed.33
30 Senate Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Readiness and Management
Support, Military Installation Programs in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for
FY2005, [Hearings] April 1, 2004.
31 S.Amdt. 3158.
32 “Rumsfeld Would Advise Veto Over Base-Closing Delay,” CongressDaily, September
33 William Matthews, “No Hurry on U.S. 2005 Spending Bill,” DefenseNews, September 20,
On October 8, 2004, Senate and House conferees reached agreement on the
National Defense Authorization Act for FY2005, which included continued support
of DOD’s authority to conduct the 2005 base closure and realignment round. Senator
John Warner stated, “This Administration priority is absolutely essential and
necessary ... to allow the Department to evaluate its infrastructure and to make smart
decisions to support a well-postured 21st Century military. We must complete this
crucial process over the next year in order to reduce aging, excess infrastructure,
provide resources for the military where they need it the most, and provide
investment and development opportunities for the local communities that so strongly
support our forces.”34
On the same day, Representative Duncan Hunter underscored four provisions
of the law intended to improve the BRAC implementation process. These included
(1) prohibiting any revision of DOD’s force-structure plan or infrastructure inventory
after March 15, 2005; (2) codifying the Secretary of Defense’s criteria for selecting
bases to be closed and realigned; (3) repealing the authority of the Secretary of
Defense to place installations in inactive status; and (4) prohibiting the Commission
from changing the Secretary of Defense’s selections — unless at least two members
of the Commission visit the installation involved, and at least seven members of the
Commission support the decision.35 This last provision was intended to ensure that
a super-majority of BRAC commissioners prevailed.36
Community Concerns about BRAC
Local Efforts to Prevent Closures37
As a result of the impending new round of base closures, many community
leaders have been searching for ways to protect nearby military installations. In these
efforts, they have received much encouragement and financial support from their
respective state and local governments. Millions of dollars are currently being spent
to improve the infrastructure near bases, with the intent of ensuring their survival.
The Pentagon, with an interest in paring down the military, is looking at bases
with only one or two missions, or some other critical vulnerability. At the other end
of the continuum is Fort Jackson, SC which, besides including a basic combat and
34 U.S. Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Press Release: Senate and House Complete
Conference on Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005
October 8, 2004.
35 Congressional Record, daily ed., October 8, 2004, H9279.
36 U.S. Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Press Release: Senate and House Complete
Conference on Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005
October 8, 2004.
37 Information in this section, as well as in the next, is derived in large part from two articles
by George Cahlink, “Bracing for Closure,” Government Executive, August 1, 2001; and
“White House Threatens Veto of Defense Bill over Limits on Base Closure,” Government
Executive, May 23, 2003.
advanced individual Army training program, also is the home of a chaplain school,
a drill sergeants’ school, the Soldier Support Institute, and the Department of Defense
In August 2003, leaders in San Antonio, Texas proposed a constitutional
amendment authorizing the state to issue $250 million in bonds to help protect Texas
military installations. Local communities, under this arrangement are able to borrow
the bond proceeds at low rates for projects that “enhance the military value” of
In another example, a non-profit community organization in Shreveport, LA
offered to build and refurbish more than 300 housing units at Barksdale Air Force
Base — at no additional cost to DOD. The offer was made after many complaints
about the inadequacy of its military housing.
In other cases, state “retention” grants have been awarded to help local
communities (1) establish links between military bases and state universities; (2)
utilize the potential for public-private partnerships; and (3) consider exchanging
military land with private developers in return for building new base facilities.
When asked for advice on how to prevent base closures, one leading former
defense official answered that the communities should emphasize existing strengths
and new partnerships with the military. “Our advice to the communities,” he said,
“was always the same — make sure the strengths of your facility are known.”40
Addressing the Encroachment Issue
Of special concern to many communities, as well as the Department of Defense,
is “range encroachment.” It is the process whereby a military base is progressively
hemmed in by urban growth, competition for air space, protection of an endangered
species, and other factors. Such a development can detract from a base’s desirability,
and thus make it a target for future closure and realignment in the next round.
In the past, the Department of Defense has regarded encroachment as a local
government issue over which it had little or no control. According to one Pentagon
official, John Leigh, the federal government remained virtually powerless to
intervene in local community growth issues. However, laws have been passed in the
last few years that now require local jurisdictions to consider the impact of new
growth on military readiness when making land-use decisions.41
38 Susanne M. Schafer, “Fort Should Be Safe, Sanford Says,” Associated Press, August 26,
39 “Help State Defend Its Military Facilities,” San Antonio Express-News, August 25, 2003.
40 George Cahlink, “Bracing for Closure,” Government Executive, August 1, 2001
41 Lara Beaven, “Encroachment Likely to ‘Loom Large’ in 2005 Base Closure Round,”
Inside Defense, August 13, 2002.
An October 2002 study by the National Governors Association drew attention
to the rising problem of encroachment in many states. A condensed section of the
Civilian encroachment is beginning to restrict or eliminate testing and training
activities in many locations. Eighty percent of our nation’s installations are
experiencing urban growth at a rate higher than the national average. Residential
and commercial communities are potentially exposed to artillery fire, aircraft
noise, dust, and worse yet accidents.
As urban growth and development increase near and around bases, so do land-
use conflicts between mission activities and local communities. For instance,
many military airports conduct night training exercises. The city lights of
encroaching development often compromise the effectiveness of night vision
equipment, making night training exercises impractical.
The extent of urban encroachment and its effect on operational activity of an
installation is a consideration in determining its future viability, and such mission
constraint can lead to activity reductions or even closures. The resulting
reduction in installation personnel and mission activities can jeopardize
economic activity, jobs, and tax revenues. Encroachment puts local and state42
economies at risk.
The FY2003 defense authorization act (P.L. 107-314) included a natural
resource conversion provision that addressed the impact of land development on
military installations. The Pentagon argued that environmental requirements placed
serious limitations on the use of certain lands. As a result, Section 2881 authorized
the Secretary of Defense to create conservation buffer zones outside its installations
to help prevent urban sprawl, while also providing habitat for endangered species.
Environmental advocates have argued that DOD needs to work more closely with
developers and local officials, who are likely to be focused on increasing the area’s
The FY2004 defense authorization conference report requires the Secretary of
Defense to conduct a comprehensive study on the impact of various types of
encroachment issues affecting military installations and operational ranges. The
report must be completed not later than January 31, 2006.43
U.S. Overseas Basing Initiative
On August 16, 2004, the President announced that the Pentagon would
redistribute its overseas bases as a means of achieving a more agile and flexible
force. The initiative, as part of a Global Posture Review, came after three years of
study and consultation. In his statement, the President made it clear he would retain
a significant military presence overseas, but that he also intended to bring home
42 National Governors Association, “Military Installations Pressured by Sprawl,” October
43 H.Rept. 108-354 (Congressional Record, daily ed., November 6, 2003, H10577-H10578).
about 60,000 to 70,000 uniformed personnel and about 100,000 family members and
civilian employees over the next ten years.44
Opponents of the 2005 base realignment and closure plan have seized on the
President’s announcement, arguing that roughly one-third of the soldiers overseas
will be returning home and that, given the circumstances, it would be premature to
close domestic facilities. Key Members of Congress, most notably Senators Kay
Bailey Hutchison and Dianne Feinstein (Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate
Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Military Construction), expressed their concerns
in this regard.
On April 8, 2003, these two Senators sponsored a bill (S. 949) to create a
bipartisan Overseas Basing Commission (OBC).45 Its purpose was “to assess the
adequacy of the U.S. military footprint overseas, consider the feasibility and
advisability of closing any current U.S. installations, and provide to Congress
recommendations for a comprehensive overseas basing strategy that meets the current
and projected needs of the United States.”46
On April 29, 2003, the sponsors explained: “If we reduce our overseas presence,
we need statewide bases to station returning troops. It is senseless to close bases on
U.S. soil in 2005 only to determine a few years later that we made a costly,
irrevocable mistake.”47 The two Members of Congress also said that the new
commission would last for one year, include eight congressionally appointed
members, and be completed for the opening of the 2005 BRAC process.48
In a July 10, 2003 statement, the White House threatened not to cooperate with
an Overseas Basing Commission, saying that it was already looking at current and
future force structure and basing needs. A congressional commission looking over
DOD’s shoulders, it argued, was unnecessary. In spite of White House opposition,
however, the OBC became law when President George Bush signed the Fiscal Year
The Overseas Basing Commission was originally scheduled to report its
findings by December 31, 2004. As a result of delays in forming the OBC, its
deadline was extended to August 31, 2005 — with a preliminary draft issued by the
end of March.
44 John D. Banusiewicz, “Bush Announces Global Posture Changes Over Next Decade,”
American Forces Press Service, August 16, 2004.
45 The full title is the “Commission on Review of Overseas Military Facility Structure of the
46 Press Release: “Feinstein, Hutchison Introduce Military Base Commission Legislation,”
April 8, 2003.
47 Congressional Record, daily ed., April 29, 2003, S5495.
48 Lisa Burgess, “Call for Commission on Overseas Military Facilities,” Stars and Stripes,
May 1, 2003.
On November 9, 2004, the OBC held a hearing in which John Hamre, former
deputy Secretary of Defense, said that DOD had not thought enough about how
realigning forces abroad could be used strategically to shape the international
environment in the coming decades. He noted that the kinds of changes to the U.S.
military posture DOD was contemplating at this time were driven primarily by
operational expediency, rather than strategy. “The problem,” he emphasized, “is that
in order to be sustainable over the long-term, U.S. bases overseas must be part of an
overall political, diplomatic, and strategic framework.” He did not feel that the
Administration had established “an enduring framework for the new bases DOD was
Six months later, on May 5, 2005, the OBC unveiled its preliminary report
regarding the Pentagon’s global basing plans. According to early press accounts, the
commission is concerned that the Pentagon is pursuing global change too rapidly, and
that it is providing insufficient support in several other important aspects: such as
adequate airlift and sealift, the need for heavy forces in Europe, and “quality of life”
BRAC Developments: 2005
The 2005 BRAC Commission
The 2005 base realignment and closure statute entitled the President to nominate
nine members to an independent base closure Commission, by a date no later than
March 15, 2005. He was also given the opportunity to ignore the directive — with
the result that the new BRAC round would have been cancelled.51 The President,
however, declined to exercise that authority.52
In appointing members to the new BRAC Commission, the statute states that the
President should consult with the top congressional leadership, as outlined below:
House of RepresentativesSenate
Speaker of the House — 2Majority Leader of the Senate — 2
Minority Leader — 1Minority Leader — 1
49 Chris Strohm, “Effort to Realign Military Bases Abroad Seen as Short-Sighted,” GovExec,
November 9, 2004.
50 John M. Donnelly, “Report Says Defense Department Has Failed to Adequately Study
Military Base Plans,” CQToday, May 5, 2005.
51 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (P.L. 107-107, signed into law
December 12, 2001.
52 The President has another opportunity to terminate the BRAC process by failing to
forward the final list of BRAC actions to Congress before November 7, 2005.
The three remaining appointments do not require consultation with Congress.
A related matter of likely interest will be the composition of the Commission
members. In the past four BRAC rounds, they have included
!Former Members of Congress
!Retired military leaders
!Former U.S. ambassadors
!Business leaders — industry, banking, etc.
!Former House and Senate staff members
!Former White House staff members
Over a period of two months, from February 1, 2005 to April 1, 2005, the
President and senior congressional leaders conducted a review and, ultimately,
approved the selection of nine commissioners to the 2005 base closure and
Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert recommended former Representative
James V. Hansen of Utah, and Samuel K. Skinner of Illinois. The latter formerly
served on President George Bush’s chief of staff.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recommended Philip E. Coyle III of
California, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director of Operational Test
Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist recommended retired General Lloyd
W. Newton, USAF (Ret.) of Connecticut, and retired Admiral Harold W. Gehman,
Jr. USN (Ret.) of Virginia.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid recommended former Representative James
Bilbray of Nevada.
The President selected Anthony A. Principi of California to be the chairman of
the 2005BRAC Commission. He was, most recently, vice-president of the Pfizer
Corporation. In earlier years, he served as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the
chief counsel for the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Veterans
Affairs Committee, and as a top official with defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
In addition, he is a decorated Vietnam war veteran.
The two other nominees selected by the President were Brigadier General Sue
Ellen Turner, USAF (Ret.) of Texas, and General James T. Hill, USA (Ret.) of
With its formal establishment, the BRAC Commission proceeded to conduct a
series of local, D.C. — area hearings to collect general information on DOD’s force
structure needs and goals for the BRAC process. It will also conduct regional
hearings at locations throughout the country to provide affected communities with
the chance to express their views and concerns. At least one commissioner, it has
been said, will visit each base on DOD’s designated list. An additional round or two
of hearings (local and regional) are possible before completion of the BRAC
deliberative process — after which the Commission will send its final list to the
It should be noted that, due to current BRAC law, the Commission can only add
a base to DOD’s list under the following circumstances. Two commissioners must
visit the installation — and seven of the nine commissioners must reach agreement53
on the final decision. In past rounds, there appears to be no evidence of such
restrictions. A vote by a simple majority of commissioners was sufficient to justify
adding a base to DOD’s list.
Debate On Status of the National Guard
On March 24, 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld received a letter
from Illinois congressional leaders stating that, according to a provision of federal
law, the Pentagon could not close National Guard bases without a governor’s
consent. They called on the Secretary to immediately stop any actions that might
violate the law.
On April 12, 2005, the Department of Defense sent a letter to the Illinois
lawmakers rejecting their claim. The letter stated that, for BRAC to be a truly
comprehensive process and to achieve success, “the process must involve all54
installations, including those used by the reserve components.” Other sources have
stated that the BRAC law and the law prohibiting the closing of National Guard
facilities appear to be unrelated.
With the swearing-in of the new base closure Commission on May 3, 2005, the
National Guard issue resurfaced. In its first set of hearings, the chairman, Anthony
J. Principi, asserted that the debate over the governor’s legal authority would not
slow his panel’s consideration of DOD’s proposed list — that it was an issue for the55
lawyers to decide.
DOD Lowers Estimate of Excess Capacity
On March 29, 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that
the 2005 base closure and realignment round might be less extensive than initially
expected. At a news conference, he explained that DOD’s previous estimate of
excess capacity had been 20 to 25 percent, but that “it looks now like the actual
number will be less than the lower figure of that range.” He said the change was due
to the ongoing effort by DOD to close military facilities overseas, which in turn
necessitates moving tens of thousands of troops back to U.S. bases — perhaps, as
many as 70,000. Even so, Secretary Rumsfeld expects that the 2005 round of
53 Sec. 2914(d) (3) and (5): “Limitations on Authority to Add to Closure or Realignment
Lists,” (P.L.101-510, as amended).
54 John M. Donnelly, “Base Closing Commission Brushes Aside Arguments About Guard
Facilities,” CQToday, May 4, 2005.
55 Federal News Service, May 3, 2005.
closures and realignments will affect more installations than all of the four previous
Effort Made to Block Nominations
On March 31, 2005, Senator Trent Lott placed a hold on the President’s
nomination of former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, as head of the
2005 base closure Commission. It was also reported in the press that Senator Lott
intended to place holds on each of the remaining BRAC Commission nominees who
had yet to appear before the Armed Services Committee for their confirmation
hearings.57 A staunch opponent of BRAC, Senator Lott joined other lawmakers last
year in a bid to delay the 2005 round by two years. His amendment to the Senate’s
FY2005 defense authorization bill was narrowly defeated by a vote of 49 to 47.58
On April 1, 2005, President Bush took the unusual step of announcing the recess
appointment of all nine BRAC Commission members, thereby eliminating the
requirement for Senate confirmation.59 Senator John Warner, who heads the Armed
Services Committee supported the White House decision, saying that such delays
might otherwise complicate completion of the 2005 BRAC round.
Base Closure Commission Hearings
On March 15, 2005, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing
on the nomination of Anthony Principi to be the chairman of the base realignment
and closure commission. In his comments to the committee, Mr. Principi stressed that
the new commission would be bipartisan, that it would comply with the both the
intent and spirit of the BRAC law, and would seek all and any information needed60
from the Department of Defense to make the right decisions.
On April 7, 2005, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Quality
of Life held a hearing on base realignment and closure and its relationship to DOD’s61
global posture review. In his opening remarks, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense
Phil Grone underscored three key imperatives: (1) furthering the ongoing
transformation of the armed forces; (2) maximizing the joint utilization of DOD’s
56 Tom Shoop, “Pentagon Lowers Estimate of Excess Base Capacity,” Government
Executive, March 29, 2005.
57 Amy Klamper, “Sources Say Lott Is Blocking Base Closure Nominations,” National
Journal CongressDailyPM, March 31, 2005.
58 See above, p. 9.
59 Eric Schmitt, “Bush Sidesteps Lott’s Effort to Delay Base Closings,” New York Times,
April 2, 2005.
60 Senate Committee on Armed Services, Hearing on the Nomination of Anthony Principi
to Be a Member of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, March 15, 2005.
61 U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life of the
Committee on Appropriations, Hearing on Base Realignment and Closure and Global
Posture Review, April 7, 2005.
assets; and (3) eliminating DOD’s excess infrastructure capacity, both at home and
abroad. He said subsequently that global defense posture changes and domestic base
realignment and closure were key, interlinked elements that supported on-going force
transformation. “A well-supported capability-based force structure,” he stressed
“should have infrastructure that is best sized and placed to support national security
needs and emerging mission requirements.”62
On May 3, 2005, the new BRAC Commission held its first hearing, a morning
session that opened with the swearing-in of all nine members. In the first hearing,
the Commission was briefed by witnesses from the Congressional Research Service
and the Government Accountability Office on the statute guiding the decisions and
criteria that are to be applied in evaluating DOD’s proposed selection, the issues it
is likely to face in the months to come, as well as the lessons learned from prior
In the afternoon session, the panel was briefed by the chairman of the National
Intelligence Council on threats to the United States over the next 20 years. These
threats included “unconventional tactics such as sabotage, terrorism, information
attacks, and weapons of mass destruction used by terrorists insurgents and other non-
state enemies that might alter how the military fights its battles.”63 A third hearing
was held by the Commission on May 4, 2005, which addressed important DOD force
structure issues, including the need to secure the United States from a direct attack
and the need to strengthen partnerships and alliances abroad.
Pentagon Delivers 2005 BRAC List
On May 13, 2005, the new BRAC Commission received DOD’s list of base
realignments and closures. The Pentagon announced that it planned to close 33 major
U.S. installations and realign 29 others — in a move to consolidate forces and save
almost $50 billion over 20 years. The overall number of current major bases, by
DOD’s account, is 318. In addition to the 62 major installations, DOD seeks to close
or realign 775 smaller facilities.
Table 1 compares the first four BRAC rounds (1988 to 1995), with the single,
currently proposed 2005 round:
63 Megan Scully, “Base-Closing Commission Gets Underway with Briefing on Threats,”
Gov. Exec.com, May 4, 2005.
Table 1. Results of BRAC-Related Actions
Major Major Minor Cos t s Savings
YearClosingsRealignmentsActions(in billions)(in billions)
1988 16 4 23 $2.7 $0.9
1991 26 17 32 5.2 2.0
1993 28 12 123 7.6 2.6
1995 27 22 57 6.5 1.7
Total 97 55 235 $22.0 $7.3
2005 33 29 775 $24.4 $5.5
Table 2 provides information on the impact of new closures and realignments
as it may affect state jobs.
Table 2. Net Jobs Lost and Gained
StatesJobs LostStatesJobs Gained
1. Connecticut-8,5861. Maryland+9,293
2. Maine-6,9382. Georgia+7,423
3. District of Columbia-6,4963. Texas+6,150
4. Alaska-4,6194. Colorado+4,917
5. South Dakota-3,7975. Oklahoma+3,919
Source: Department of Defense
On May 16, 2005, the BRAC Commission began an intensive schedule of
hearings on Capitol Hill. It opened with the appearance of the Secretary of Defense,
Donald Rumsfeld, and continued throughout the week, with testimony from each of
the military chiefs of staff and their subordinates.
A number of significant elements have emerged from the hearings, including the
!The Secretary of Defense stated that the U.S. military has only about
5 to 10 percent excess capacity once it takes into consideration the
space it will need to accommodate 70,000 troops returning from
Europe. The Pentagon had earlier estimated it had 20 to 25 percent
more capacity than it needed. The Secretary explained that the upper
figure was imprecise, that it was unclear whether past
recommendations included leased space or requirements for
maintaining a “surge capacity.”64
!The Pentagon plans to consolidate military Reserve and Guard
facilities into 125 new multi-component Armed Forces Reserve
Centers that would combine Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine
The Army will close 176 Army Reserve centers and 211 Army
National Guard facilities, but it will build 125 multi-service
Reserve centers in places better suited to help its flagging
recruiting efforts. Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National
Guard Bureau, stated that, “By closing or divesting ourselves of
inefficient facilities and moving to places where we have better
demographics and constructing join facilities, I think we give
better opportunity to the members of the Reserve component,
make it more convenient and give them more choices.”65 This
appeared to be the most contentious issue during the early
!The Pentagon plans to move thousands of military and civilian
workers out of leased commercial high-rise buildings near the
Pentagon in Northern Virginia, and at other urban sites, in order to
provide increased security at bases around the country.
!The Department of Defense has decided to shift significant numbers
of U.S. military forces and assets from New England and the Mid-
West to the South and the Far-West. As quoted by one report, “[The]
Pentagon has apparently found its ideal environment: proximity to
the coasts for rapid deployment, cheap and plentiful land, and a
culture more tied to martial traditions.”66
On May 18, 2005, Representative Jeb Bradley and several other House Armed
Services Committee members attempted to halt the BRAC process by introducing a
bill that would have delayed base closings and realignments. The amendment was
defeated by voice vote. The Chairman of the House Readiness Subcommittee,
Representative Joel Hefley, sympathized with his colleagues, but allowed that there
was not much that they could do to alter the situation.
64 Vince Crawley, “Reserve Hit Hard By Base Closures,” Marine Corps Times, May 23,
65 Eric Schmitt, “Pentagon Seeks to Shut Dozens of Bases Across Nation,” New York Times,
May 14, 2005, p. A1and A10.
66 Mark Sappenfield and Patrick Jonsson, “As Military Realigns Bases, the South Wins,”
Christian Science Monitor, May 16, 2005, p. 1.
On May 23, 2005, the BRAC Commission announced that its members would
visit 20 military sites in many different parts of the country, beginning on May 24 and
ending on May 27. A week or so later, the Commission is expected to conduct a
series of 16 regional hearings, beginning on June 7 and ending on July 14. Chairman
Principi has stated that these visits will provide, not only a forum for the
Commissioners and its staff to learn details of what is happening at closing bases, but
also a forum for them to understand the impact of BRAC decisions on the local
On May 24, 2005, the Missouri delegation of Congress sent a letter to Secretary
of Defense Rumsfeld complaining about the absence of adequate information. It said
that the lack of material was hurting their ability to make a case to keep bases open.
The Pentagon replied that it had provided most of the important information and
data, with the exception of a small amount of classified material that was undergoing
DOD’s security clearance process.67
The following day, Representative Bradley again attempted to postpone the
2005 round by submitting an amendment to the FY2006 Defense Authorization bill
(H.R. 1815). He recommended curtailing the next round until one year after certain
conditions were met, namely: implementation of DOD’s Review of Overseas
Military Facility Structure; return of a substantial number of U.S. troops from Iraq;
submission of DOD’s Quadrennial Defense Review to the House and Senate Armed
Services Committees; and other related requirements. His bill was defeated by a vote
67 Philip Dine, “Lawmakers Demand Data on Base Closings,” Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2005.
68 House Roll Call Vote 219.
The 2005 BRAC Timeline
The timeline below identifies the key actions involving the 2005 base closure
and realignment round. The most important decisions are those of the President and
Congress, which have the opportunity, in each of two cases, to completely shut down
the overall BRAC process (see bold text).
Table 3. The 2005 BRAC Timeline
Sec/Def must publish initial selection criteria in the Federal Register by:12/31/03
— GAO must complete review of Sec/Def criteria by:1/28/03
Sec/Def must publish final selection criteria in the Federal Register by:2/16/04
Sec/Def final criteria becomes effective (unless disapproved by Act of3/15/04
President must nominate Commission members by: 3/15/05
(or BRAC process is terminated)
Sec/Def must send closure list to Commission, 5/16/05
as well as to defense committees by:
— GAO must complete review of Sec/Def list by:7/1/05
Commission must send closure list to President by:9/8/05
— President must approve/disapprove by:9/23/05
— Commission may revise list, but no later than:10/20/05
President must certify Commission list by:11/7/05
(or BRAC process is terminated)
Congress has 45 days to pass motion of disapproval
(or Commission’s list becomes law)
Termination of base closure Commission authority4/15/06