Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) is a process by a United States federal government commission to increase United States Department of Defense efficiency by coordinating the realignment and closure of military installations following the end of the Cold War. More than 350 installations have been closed in five BRAC rounds: 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 2005. These five BRAC rounds constitute a combined savings of $12 billion annually.
The Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, passed after the 1947 reorganization of the National Military Establishment, reduced the number of US military bases, forts, posts, and stations. The subsequent 1950s buildup for the Cold War (e.g., during the Korean War) resulted in large numbers of new installations, such as the of Permanent System radar stations and Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) control centers. By 1959, plans for even larger numbers of Cold War installations were canceled (e.g., DoD's June 19, 1959, Continental Air Defense Program reduced the number of Super Combat Center underground nuclear bunkers to 7) and in 1958, US Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) began to replace Strategic Air Command bombers. From 1960–1964, the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations closed 574 U.S. military bases around the world, particularly after President John F. Kennedy was briefed after his inauguration that the missile gap was not a concern.
The Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990 provided "the basic framework for the transfer and disposal of military installations closed during the base realignment and closure (BRAC) process". The process was created in 1988 to reduce pork barrel politics with members of Congress that arise when facilities face activity reductions.
The most recent process began May 13, 2005, when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld forwarded his recommendations for realignments and closures to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. The BRAC is an independent nine-member panel appointed by the President. This panel evaluated the list by taking testimony from interested parties and paying visits to affected bases. The BRAC Commission had the opportunity to add bases to the list, and did so in a July 19, 2005 hearing. The Commission met its deadline of September 2005 to provide the evaluated list to the President, who approved the list with the condition that the list could only be approved or disapproved in its entirety. On November 7, 2005 the approved list was then given to Congress which then had the opportunity to disapprove the entire list within 45 days by enacting a resolution of disapproval. This did not happen and the BRAC Commission's recommendations became final.
The 1988 Base Realignment and Closure Commission included:
In 1990, the Navy considered cutting 34 military installations.
The 1991 Base Realignment and Closure Commission included:
The 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission included:
The 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission included:
The Pentagon released its proposed list for the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission on May 13, 2005 (a date given the moniker "BRAC Friday," a pun on Black Friday). After an extensive series of public hearings, analysis of DoD-supplied supporting data, and solicitation of comments from the public, the list of recommendations was revised by the 9-member Defense Base Closure and Realignments Commission in two days of public markups and votes on individual recommendations (the proceedings were broadcast by C-SPAN and are available for review on the network's website). The Commission submitted its revised list to the President on September 8, 2005. The President approved the list and signalled his approval to Congress on September 15. The House of Representatives took up a joint resolution to disapprove the recommendations on October 26, but the resolution failed to pass. The recommendations were thereby enacted. The Secretary of Defense must implement the recommendations no later than September 15, 2011.
Major facilities slated for closure included:
Major facilities slated for realignment include:
26 bases were re-aligned into 12 joint bases, with each joint base's installation support being led by the Army, the Air Force, or the Navy. An example is Joint Base Lewis–McChord, Washington, combining Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.
The 2005 Commission recommended that Congress authorize another BRAC round in 2015, and then every eight years thereafter. On May 10, 2012, the House Armed Services Committee rejected Pentagon calls for base closures outside of a 2015 round by a 44 to 18 vote. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had called for two rounds of base closures, while at the same time arguing that the alternative of the sequester would be a "meat-ax" approach to cuts which would "hollow out" military forces.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 specifically prohibits authorization of future BRAC rounds.
In May 2014, it was attempted to fund another round of BRAC, although funding was not approved in a vote in May of that year.
In March 2015, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment addressed the possibility of a future BRAC, indicating that the DOD, Defense Secretary Ash Carter was requesting authority to conduct another BRAC.
In September 2015, at the tenth anniversary of the end of the most recent BRAC commission report, its former chairman Anthony J. Principi wrote "now is the time to do what’s right for our men and women in uniform. Spending dollars on infrastructure that does not serve their needs is inexcusable."
The following is a chronological timeline of authorizations for U.S. Congressional legislation related to US defense installation realignments and military base closures.
|Date of Enactment||Public Law Number||U.S. Statute Citation||U.S. Legislative Bill||U.S. Presidential |
|October 24, 1988||P.L. 100-526||102 Stat. 2623||S. 2749||Ronald W. Reagan|
|November 5, 1990||P.L. 101-510||104 Stat. 1485||H.R. 4739||George H.W. Bush|
|October 3, 1995||P.L. 104-32||109 Stat. 283||H.R. 1817||William J. Clinton|
|September 16, 1996||P.L. 104-196||110 Stat. 2385||H.R. 3517||William J. Clinton|
|September 30, 1997||P.L. 105-45||111 Stat. 1142||H.R. 2016||William J. Clinton|
|September 20, 1998||P.L. 105-237||112 Stat. 1553||H.R. 4059||William J. Clinton|
|August 17, 1999||P.L. 106-52||113 Stat. 259||H.R. 2465||William J. Clinton|
|July 13, 2000||P.L. 106-246||114 Stat. 511||H.R. 4425||William J. Clinton|
|November 5, 2001||P.L. 107-64||115 Stat. 474||H.R. 2904||George W. Bush|
|October 23, 2002||P.L. 107-249||116 Stat. 1578||H.R. 5011||George W. Bush|
|November 22, 2003||P.L. 108-132||117 Stat. 1374||H.R. 2559||George W. Bush|
|October 13, 2004||P.L. 108-324||118 Stat. 1220||H.R. 4837||George W. Bush|
|2005||P.L.||H.R. 4302||George W. Bush|
McNamara Firm on Base Shutdowns … Temporary Team … Highlands Air Force Station … personnel will be inactivated by July, 1966, leaving Army radar unit at base intact
The passage in October 1988 of Public Law 100–526 removed certain restrictive provisions of the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and allowed the first round of domestic base closings in nearly a decade. ...
the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command, denominated a specified command because, although part of the Air Force, it came under the operational control of the JCS.24 Clifford had previously appointed a group, known as Project 693, to determine which programs to sacrifice when it became necessary.65 ... McNamara test, 25 Jan 66, House Subcte No 2, HCAS, Hearing: Department of Defense Decision to Reduce the Number and Types of Manned Bombers in the Strategic Air Command, 6084.
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