Heritage Foundation: The Time is Right to Call for BRAC

The Defense Department is restructuring its headquarters staffs as it looks to save $1.9 billion in a 25 percent reduction of costs. Air Force photo by SrA. Perry Aston.

The Pentagon should use its next budget request to call for another Base Realignment and Closure round, the conservative Heritage Foundation writes in a new white paper.

Because lawmakers are mindful of the impacts of BRAC on their local communities, the Defense Department can convince Congress of the need to shut some bases by pointing to potential cost savings and the push to reshape the military under the National Defense Strategy.

The Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act required the Pentagon to produce its third report on force structure and infrastructure capabilities in the 2021 budget request. Heritage sees that as an opportunity for the department to state its case for BRAC, after two previous reports found DOD has as much as 22 percent excess capacity.

After six consecutive years of calling for base closures, the Pentagon did not request BRAC authority in 2019. That may be because officials sensed “no chance of it being granted,” Heritage analyst Frederico Bartels wrote in the Aug. 14 white paper.

He called on the department to make a clear case for BRAC by including a request for that authority in the 2021 budget request, to keep an open mind about which bases could be affected, and to reform the overall BRAC process with Congress to cut down on excess capacity.

The Air Force is still working through property transfers from the most recent BRAC round in 2005.