Obama Budget Calls for Pentagon Base Closures

Wednesday, 10 Apr 2013 08:47 PM

By Greg Richter

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The Pentagon is requesting $2.4 billion to fund base closures that would start in 2015, and the GOP is already rejecting it.

The Defense Department’s proposal, part of President Barack Obama’s budget plan unveiled Wednesday, would save money in the long term by trimming its “excess capacity” in property.

But base closures are a political hot button, and some Republicans rejected the defense budget even before Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel officially introduced it, Politico reports.

The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) fueled heated discussions between the Pentagon and Congress last year, with Congress eventually rejecting the Pentagon’s proposals.

But the Pentagon argues that continued troop cuts and increased personnel costs make the base closures necessary.

Hagel called BRAC a “comprehensive and fair tool” that allows communities where bases are located to give input into how the properties are reused. “There are upfront costs for BRAC, and this budget adds $2.4 billion over the next five years to pay them, but in the long term, there are significant savings.”

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s panel on tactical and land forces, told Politico that forces are “already stretched thin” and that Obama has an “inability to recognize that the world is not becoming a safer or more stable place. … How much more will the president ask of our military, while simultaneously cutting the resources they need to defend this nation?”

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla, and ranking minority member of the Senate Armed Services Committee called the plan dead on arrival, Politico reported.

The proposal “fails to exhibit the needed leadership of a commander in chief to adequately address our escalating threats abroad and our harsh fiscal realities here at home,” Inhofe said.

The proposals were part of an overall $526.6 billion Pentagon budget that also called for program cancellations and smaller pay increases. The proposals, which would take effect when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, did not take sequestration into effect.

Base closures disrupt local economies and cost a huge amount up front, only saving money over the long run. The Pentagon is believed to have more than 20 percent surplus of infrastructure based on estimates from the last round of base closures that started in 2005.

Thomson/Reuters contributed to this report.

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