James Calls for Shedding Excess Base Infrastructure

The Air Force has 24-percent excess capacity in its bases worldwide and the extra infrastructure should be subjected to the scrutiny of a new round of BRAC, asserted service Secretary Deborah Lee James. Addressing reporters on Nov. 17 at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during the first leg of her tour of Air Force bases in the Asia-Pacific region, she said no private business would tolerate that excess. “We must get rid of whatever is no longer needed,” she argued. That effort would be critical in freeing up scarce funds for improving readiness and investing in modern weapons, she said. The Air Force has nine major bases in Pacific Air Forces’ area of responsibility: two in Alaska, three in Japan, two in South Korea, and one each on Guam and Hawaii. Some 46,000 military and civilian personnel are assigned to PACAF. The call for reducing or closing bases is likely to run up against a mixed response in the region. In Hawaii, for example, the Army has disclosed that large numbers of soldiers and civilian employees might be withdrawn from the islands. A campaign to prevent that is already underway.