Sen. Tim Kaine expressed skepticism this week that another military base-closing round is a good idea — and he had some company.
Kaine questioned Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey about the effectiveness of the Base Realignment and Closure commission, better known as BRAC. The two leaders appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Obama administration has requested a BRAC round in 2015, with base closings to begin as soon as 2016. The president says the military can afford to shed excess capacity with the winding down of wars in the Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Kaine said BRAC creates such “sturm and drang” that it might not be the best approach.
“When BRAC is announced, what happens is every community that has military assets — whether they are going to be on the chopping block or not — they lawyer up, they account up, they public relations up, and there’s uncertainty and anxiety that can have its own economic effect.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin later told The Hill that he doesn’t seen BRAC gaining any momentum. Although the Pentagon has committed $2.4 billion to cover up-front BRAC costs, that’s not in the 2014 budget, but for next year and beyond, Levin said.
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. is the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services panel, and he also told The Hill he’s opposed.
On the House side, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, has already chaired a hearing that raised serious questions about the viability of another BRAC round. Wittman chairs a House Armed Services subcommittee that deals with readiness issues.