Defense

Mattis Calls For Base Closures, Points To 19 Percent Excess Capacity

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is calling for Congress to authorize a new round of base closures, as the Department of Defense is operating at 19 percent excess capacity.

The Pentagon submitted a report in October detailing an excess infrastructure capacity of 19 percent, prompting Mattis to write a letter urging Congress to authorize a BRAC round in 2021.

“Since the last BRAC round we have developed new methods of warfare, new technologies, and expanded needs for Warfighters training that require us to assess the military value and effectiveness of our domestic military infrastructure,” Mattis wrote in a letter to Congress dated October 6. “In addition, every unnecessary facility we maintain requires us to cut capabilities elsewhere. I must be able to eliminate excess infrastructure in order to shift resources to readiness and modernization.”

The DOD report notes that the Army has an estimated excess capacity percentage of 29 percent. The Air Force has an excess capacity percentage of 28 percent.

Following the report’s release, House Committee on Armed Services ranking member Democratic Rep. Adam Smith issued a statement arguing that the case for a BRAC round is “extremely strong.”

“We are wasting taxpayer money to maintain buildings and facilities that the military does not need, while we drain away funds for readiness and weaponry that could keep our service members safe and our country secure,” Smith said.

The Pentagon has been asking Congress to authorize a BRAC round for years, but reducing facilities is an incredibly unpopular political project because of the number of jobs these facilities provide to local economies, which may result in a member of Congress losing favor with his constituents. The last BRAC round took place in 2005. Five past BRAC rounds resulted in $1 billion of annual savings to the DOD.

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