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BRAC Rejection Will Help Ease Readiness Issues, Wittman Suggests

Rob Wittman (R-Va.), chair of the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee, began last week’s markup of his panel’s portion of the fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill by highlighting the “readiness shortfalls” of the armed forces primarily caused by the government’s undue focus on deficit reduction.

“While the mark represents a good first step toward addressing our readiness challenges, much work remains to be done and the mark won’t completely fix what many have labeled a ‘readiness crisis,’” Wittman said on Thursday.

Surprisingly, though, he cited the legislation’s bar on spending by DOD to plan for or carry out a new BRAC round as “one of the provisions that will provide some relief” to the military’s readiness challenges.

“We’re prohibiting the department from proposing, planning or initiating another round of base realignment and closure because it simply doesn’t make sense at this time — from any perspective, fiscal or otherwise — as we’re simultaneously fighting a war and ramping down operations in Afghanistan,” Wittman noted.

“We’re also focused on the Quadrennial Defense Review, the strategic choices and management review, and many other studies focused on the size and structure of our military post-2014. We should focus on making informed decisions after we’ve had a chance to review the results and recommendations of the various reviews and after we’ve held open hearings to fully evaluate and consider them,” his explanation continued.

“It’s premature to expend dollars we don’t have to fix a problem we’re not sure exists. Strategy, not budget, should drive national security decisions and I won’t support a reduction in our infrastructure until I’m confident of our nation’s readiness and our military won’t suffer,” Wittman concluded.

The chairman also revealed that some members of the subcommittee opposed the provision precluding the department from spending FY 2014 funds to plan for or carry out a new BRAC round and “questioned its need.” Count the panel’s ranking member Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) in that group.

After praising the subcommittee’s work on its portion of the defense authorization bill, Bordallo said she had some concerns about the land conveyance provisions and the BRAC language prohibiting DOD from conducting studies and analysis of a future base closure round.

“But I look forward to working with the chairman, DOD and other stakeholders to perfect these issues as we go into conference,” Bordallo stated.

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