The Pentagon plans to ask Congress for two new rounds of military base closures in its upcoming budget, repeating a request rejected last year by both Democrats and Republicans up for re-election.
The new request, a defense source told Politico
, would seek authorization under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process for shutdowns in 2015 and then again in 2017.
The process calls for a bipartisan panel to study potential closure options and then present recommendations for a vote in Congress. But lawmakers fear the political repercussions of closing bases and eliminating thousands of jobs in their home states.
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The Pentagon has not commented about the potential BRAC request, but former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a Feb. 6 statement that another round of closures is necessary. Chuck Hagel, who took over Panetta's job this week, has said he will not rule out closing more bases.
The Army and Marine Corps are set to reduce their ranks by at least 100,000 troops by 2017, and Pentagon officials say the smaller force size will make closing more bases inevitable. But critics say it costs more up front to close bases, for things like environmental remediation, and creates no immediate savings.
The last round of base closings and consolidations started in 2005 and was completed in 2011 at a cost of about $35 billion.
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