Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) sharply questioned the four vice chiefs of the military services over the wisdom of beginning another round of base realignment and closure in the midst of tight military budgets Wednesday. “In the first three years, every BRAC round costs money,” he said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, and “we can’t afford to dilute those dollars that we need” to help the forces recover from a readiness deficit. In response, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn conceded that “we do have to put money up front” for BRAC, but he said that the Army was now saving $3 billion per year from previous BRACs and “that’s real money that we need if we don’t get rid of sequestration and…continuing resolutions.” Allyn said he had spent three years “pleading” unsuccessfully with Congress to stabilize and increase military funding, and that now the services were “forced to look internally” for savings. “BRAC is an area where we know we can save.” Inhofe remained doubtful that the military “can afford to reach that point where that yield is achieved and realized.” Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Stephen Wilson agreed with Allyn, saying USAF has 25 percent excess capacity at its installations that, if closed, could help fund “a backlog of stuff we have to pay for” elsewhere in the force.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.