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Il BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure)
- Subject: Il BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure)
- From: rossana <rossana at comodinoposta.org>
- Date: Sun, 17 Jul 2005 10:55:26 +0200
- User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0.2 (Windows/20050317)
Nel documento del Dpartimento della Difesa americano si prevede la
chiusura di 33 basi militari (soprattutto Germania e Corea del Sud) ed
il riallineamento di altre 29 sia negli Stati Uniti che all'estero. In
Italia si prevede invece un loro rafforzamento (ristrutturazione Sigonella).
One of the primary criticisms of the Base Realignment and Closure
(BRAC) process is that it devastates communities economically. Aside
from the fact that the Department of Defense (DOD) is not a jobs
program, these criticisms are simply not true. Most affected
communities have recovered nicely from past BRAC rounds, with
approximately 90 percent of all jobs being replaced. Indeed,
approximately 115,000 jobs have been created through past recovery
efforts, and many communities have actually prospered.
To provide greater understanding of the economic impact of BRAC, The
Heritage Foundation has analyzed the per capita income of every county
in the United States that has had a base closed in past BRAC rounds. Not
surprisingly, this analysis shows that after a small decrease, nearly
all communities continue to experience strong growth in per capita income.
History and Status of BRAC 2005
On May 13, 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld released the 2005
BRAC list, which proposes to close 33 major bases and nearly 120
smaller facilities and to realign a great many others. While the BRAC
process is aimed at generating efficiencies for the Pentagon, better
allocating scarce resources, and ensuring that the remaining
infrastructure is appropriate for a 21st century military, many in
Congress have been more concerned with the economic impact on their
After contentious yet successful BRAC rounds in 1988, 1991, 1993, and
1995, the movement to begin a fifth round began in 1997. A fifth round
was not secure until Congress passed the 2003 Defense Authorization Act,
which amended the original Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of
1990. However, in 2004, the House of Representatives inserted a
provision in the FY 2005 Defense budget to delay BRAC beyond 2005. The
Senate refusal to approve such language, and the threat of a
presidential veto kept BRAC on track.
In March 2005, the President appointed former Secretary of Veterans
Affairs Anthony J. Principi to head the BRAC Commission, and on May 13,
2005, Secretary Rumsfeld announced the proposed base closings and
realignments to Congress and the commission. Further efforts to delay
the 2005 BRAC process were also defeated in the House. There is some
effort to bring legal action from the states regarding the relationship
among state governors, National Guard facilities, and the BRAC process,
but even this issue seems to be fading.
After detailed consultations, review, and visits to the bases under
consideration, the BRAC Commission has until September 8 to send its
conclusion to the President, who then has 15 days to accept or reject
the commission’s report. One aspect of the BRAC process that is slightly
different from former years is that recent legislation requires a
supermajority of seven commissioners (out of a total of nine) to add a
base to the list.
According to Philip Grone, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for
Installations and Environment, bases chosen for closure or major
realignment can expect the process to be completed within six years,
and a series of policy reforms will enhance the DOD’s ability to move
forward to close or realign a base as expeditiously as possible to allow
economic redevelopment of the affected areas. The Pentagon’s Office
of Economic Adjustment exists to help communities adjust and make the
transition to new opportunities in the wake of BRAC through planning
grants and assistance.
Why the Pentagon Needs to Close Bases
BRAC is one of the most important—and controversial—issues affecting
the future health of the armed forces, and it is critical to U.S.
national security. It balances national defense priorities, supports
the Pentagon’s military modernization objective, saves the Department of
Defense billions of dollars each year, and creates opportunities for
private economic development.
BRAC recommendations are made in conjunction with clearly defined
selection criteria. Future mission capabilities and the impact on
operations are the list’s overriding considerations, but economic impact
is also measured. The fact is that conditions change, affecting the
utility of many bases and how individual bases contribute to overall
While the BRAC process makes a major contribution to advancing the
Pentagon’s larger transformation objective, there is no doubt that the
closure or realignment of a base, with the accompanying economic
considerations, makes for contentious political and public debate.
Nonetheless, BRAC is necessary because it:
* Advances the Pentagon’s military modernization objective. BRAC plays
an integral part in recalibrating the U.S. basing infrastructure to
reflect America’s ever-changing national security requirements. However,
BRAC is not just about closing and realigning bases, but also about
changing how the Department of Defense supports troops, acquires
hardware, repairs materiel, manages its personnel, and fights wars. BRAC
helps to focus resources on realigning, training, and upgrading the
military’s infrastructure to support a 21st century fighting force. To
afford these changes, the DOD must eliminate excess overhead and
infrastructure and address outdated business practices. Closing and
realigning bases further supports the increased drive toward joint
utilization of assets among the services, which is one of the DOD’s four
pillars of military transformation.
* Promotes Fiscal Responsibility. The previous four BRAC rounds have
saved a total of roughly $17 billion and are now saving about $3 billion
annually. Senior DOD officials estimate that the 2005 BRAC round will
generate savings of approximately $48 billion over the next 20 years.
The Department of Defense estimates that five BRAC rounds will be saving
$12 billion per year by 2011. In an environment of increasingly
scarce resources, these figures represent significant savings that could
be reinvested to support other DOD programs and operations.
* Creates opportunities for private economic development. Clearly, the
first few years after a base closure or realignment can be extremely
difficult for an affected community. However, many communities that
have experienced base closings or realignments have adapted through
community leadership, planning, and federal assistance and have
actually achieved higher rates of job and income growth. With so many
post-BRAC successes in diverse communities across the country, any
community affected by BRAC 2005 should be able to use the experiences of
these communities to develop a strong post-BRAC economic vitalization plan.
BRAC and Per Capita Income
To understand the economic affects of BRAC on individuals more
thoroughly, Heritage Foundation analysts undertook a detailed analysis
of per capita income levels in the years before and after the past four
BRAC rounds, to the extent allowed by the data. While they analyzed the
incomes from every county that experienced a base closure in the past
four rounds, this report will look at three “clusters” of base closures
in the nation. The three clusters were chosen based on past BRAC
activity; current military presence; urban, rural, or suburban
environment; Army, Navy, or Air Force concentration; and geographic
Using these parameters, the following results were obtained for these
representational clusters. As these charts show, despite the different
local conditions, the result is the same. The data demonstrate that
economic survival and growth is the norm for post-BRAC communities.
Southern California. Southern California has a significant Navy
presence, is located on the West Coast, is urban, and has both past and
current BRAC relationships.
Indiana. Indiana has a significant Air Force presence, is located in
the Midwest, is less populated, and has both past and current BRAC
Alabama. Alabama has a significant Army presence, is located in the
South, is more rural in nature, and has both past and current BRAC
Being Proactive: The Key to Post-BRAC Economic Vitalization
In the past, many communities across the country have pursued
innovative post-BRAC vitalization plans. With BRAC 2005 well underway,
the communities that will be affected by this round should consider
beginning their community vitalization process early. They can avoid
much of the economic hardship predicted by BRAC critics by learning
from past BRAC successes and proactively developing economic response plans.
It is of vital importance for them to act proactively. They should not
wait for the Pentagon, the federal government, or any other agency to
tell them what to do. Instead, they should develop their own plans and
tell the Pentagon and other government agencies what to do. The
following are 10 examples of innovative approaches that communities
used to exploit past BRAC rounds successfully and ensure economic
survival and growth:
Williams Air Force Base (BRAC 1991: Mesa, Arizona) is now Williams
Gateway Airport, an international aviation and aerospace center and
designated foreign trade zone.
Fort Devens (BRAC 1991: Ayer, Massachusetts) gained dozens of new
tenants ranging from high-tech start-ups to Gillette and Anheuser-Busch.
Charleston Naval Shipyard (BRAC 1993: Charleston, South Carolina) is now
home to over 100 private, local, state, and federal organizations.
Glenview Naval Air Station (BRAC 1993: Glenview, Illinois) is being
developed into an upscale master-planned North Shore community called
Pease Air Force Base (BRAC 1988: Portsmouth–Rochester, New Hampshire)
is now the Pease International Tradeport. Pease likes to take credit for
“helping to write the book” on economic conversion.
England Air Force Base (BRAC 1991: Alexandria, Louisiana) allowed local
planners to take advantage of England’s varied assets to diversify the
Bergstrom Air Force Base (BRAC 1991, Austin, Texas) is now
Bergstrom–Austin International Airport, serving approximately 7.2
million passengers each year.
Kelly Air Force Base (BRAC 1995: San Antonio, Texas) was developed into
a major logistics and distribution center and foreign trade zone.
Reese Air Force Base (BRAC 1995: Lubbock, Texas) is now the Reese
Technology Center, a “world-class research, education, and business
Alameda Naval Facilities (BRAC 1993: Alameda, California) are currently
occupied by nearly 85 industrial, recreational, and entertainment
What Congress Should Do
As difficult as it may be in the current political and economic
environment, Congress should keep in mind that BRAC is first and
foremost about national security. To that end, Congress should:
* Hold a set of hearings on how communities have successfully overcome
past base closures. The more Congress does to build confidence in
communities across the country that there is life after BRAC, the
greater will be the service that it provides to the nation. Many of the
problems with BRAC are the result of communities assuming the worst and
taking a defensive approach. They end up wasting valuable resources
fighting inevitable closings because they believe that they have nothing
to lose. It would be far better to use those resources to develop
* Support the BRAC Commission’s 2005 BRAC list. Congress should support
the Pentagon and the BRAC list. This is what is best for the nation
and, in the long run, for their constituents. Instead of making
promises about fighting specific closings, Members of Congress should
explain why BRAC is important and how they will help their communities
to respond. This will ensure that local communities are better prepared
for their base closings.
* Coordinate communication between communities on the 2005 BRAC list
and communities that have been on past BRAC lists. Congress could do
constituents a wonderful service by facilitating communications between
current BRAC-listed communities and past BRAC communities. This would
assist in learning lessons and developing ideas that might apply to
their own situations.
* Avoid undue politicization of the BRAC process. So far, the BRAC 2005
has been as apolitical as anyone could have hoped. Neither the
President nor Members of Congress should attempt to use political
pressure to change outcomes. It is legitimate for a community to
question the Pentagon if it believes that the Pentagon made a
mistake—which does happen—and should change the list to correct some
national security oversight. However, changing the list through
political pressure is very unhelpful. As it stands, every Member of
Congress can blame the Pentagon for the decision to close a base, and
that is good for everyone. Just one politically motivated change would
open the floodgates to other changes, undermining the entire BRAC process.
History shows that most communities quickly recover from BRAC. Although
this does not mean the transition will necessarily be easy, good
leadership and a sound economic vitalization plan can help to ensure a
successful process. It is essential that communities that find
themselves on the BRAC list begin taking the initiative now to develop
plans of action. While the Department of Defense will be available to
assist, it is incumbent on each affected community and its leadership to
develop an economic plan that reflects its unique nature.
Nevertheless, BRAC is not about jobs—nor should it be. It is about
national security. The Pentagon has too much infrastructure, and much
of what it has is outdated and unnecessary. A successful BRAC will help
the Pentagon to provide national security, and this is the most
appropriate contribution that the Department of Defense can make to the
Jack Spencer is Senior Policy Analyst for Defense and National Security
in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International
Studies at The Heritage Foundation. The author thanks Lucia Selvaggi for
her valuable contributions to this study.
Samantha Quigley, “Grone: BRAC 2005 Important for Many Reasons,”
Armed Forces Press Service, April 12, 2005, at
www.defenselink.mil/news/Apr2005/20050412_570.html (May 13, 2005).
Business Executives for National Security, “Why Close Military
Bases?” at www.bens.org/what_BRAC_why.html (May 27, 2005).
The complete data set is available from The Heritage Foundation upon
Williams Gateway Airport, “History,” at www.flywga.org/history.asp
(May 27, 2005).
U.S. Department of Defense, “Economic Renewal: Community Reuse of
Former Military Bases,” April 21, 1999, at
defenselink.mil/pubs/reuse042199.html (May 27, 2005).
U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment, “Base
Reuse Success Stories,” January 2002, at www.oea.gov/
(May 27, 2005).
Kasia Yuska, “Behind a Successful Base Closure: Opportunity and
History Join Hands,” Illinois Municipal Review, September 2003, p. 9.
Taxpayers for Common Sense and Christopher Hellman, Center for
Defense Information, New Beginnings: How Base Closures Can Improve
Local Economies and Transform America’s Military, October 2001.
U.S. Air Force, Real Property Agency, “Fact Sheet: Air Force BRAC
Success Stories,” updated May 5, 2005, at
www.afrpa.hq.af.mil/factshts/success.htm (May 27, 2005).
Sergeant First Class Doug Sample, “BRAC Turned Out to Be Good News
for Texas Capital,” North Texas e-News, March 16, 2005, at
KellyUSA Web site, at www.kellyusa.org (May 27, 2005).
Reese Technology Center Current News, “Planned for Success,” March
1, 2003, at www.reesecenter.com/news/publish/ news_18.html (May 27, 2005).
U.S. Department of Defense, “Base Reuse Success Stories.”