DOD’s top installations official offered an additional rationale for the administration’s request to hold a new BRAC round in 2021, citing the need for the department to reassess its stationing requirements given expected changes in force structure, according to written testimony submitted to the Senate Military Constructions and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee.
“Of equal importance [to eliminating excess capacity] is the ability to conduct a holistic, periodic review of stationing in view of new and changing force structure configurations,” Peter Potochney, acting assistant secretary for energy, installations and environment, stated. “With force structure adjustments under review today, a 2021 BRAC round provides a timely opportunity to integrate force structure decisions with the analysis to more efficiently synchronize delivery of supporting infrastructure,” it stated.
The fundamental reason behind DOD’s request is the need to shed unneeded infrastructure and reconfigure what remains. “The department requires a comprehensive BRAC process to reduce excess while enhancing military value, achieving recurring savings, and ensuring retention of sufficient space for contingency and surge requirements, and changing missions, tactics, and technology,” Potochney stated. He noted that two recent capacity assessments found DOD has excess capacity of between 19 and 22 percent, depending on what level of force structure is used.
Potochney’s testimony also highlighted changes to the BRAC process the department is proposing to address congressional concerns about the 2005 round, which emphasized transformation over efficiency. The department’s revised legislation would require the defense secretary to certify a BRAC round has the primary objective of eliminating excess infrastructure to enhance efficiency and reduce cost. DOD’s proposal also would require the secretary to emphasize recommendations that yield net savings within five years of implementation, and would limit the secretary’s ability to make recommendations that do not yield savings within 20 years, according to his testimony.
“The department believes we have addressed all congressional concerns,” Potochney stated, citing its initiative to launch “an efficiency-like BRAC” in Europe, complete an updated excess capacity assessment, demonstrate the “transformative nature” of the last round, program costs and projected savings into the budget, and propose changes to the BRAC statute.
“The time to authorize another BRAC round is now,” his testimony said.
During Tuesday’s hearing, lawmakers applauded the administration’s fiscal 2018 budget request which would provide $9.8 billion for military construction — a 25 percent jump from the current year — but said the extra funds wouldn’t be enough following years of constrained budgets, reported CQ Roll Call. Written testimony from each of the witnesses and a webcast of the hearing can be found on the committee website.