Defense

February 6, 2012

Military balance requires closures, realignments

The Defense Department needs another round of base realignments and closures if the military is to retain its balance, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Feb. 1.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the Reserve Officers Association that as the military cuts $487 billion over the next 10 years, infrastructure must change accordingly.

“When we talk about balancing the force and our investment in balance, there’s manpower costs, there’s modernization and equipment costs, there’s training and maintenance costs, and then there’s this thing called infrastructure – just those things involved with turning the lights on and off,” he said.

The options for cutting are limited, the chairman said. “If we don’t affect those ‘bins’ equally – or at least somewhat equally,” he added, “we will then have to harvest most of the reductions we are looking for disproportionally out of one of those other bins.”

Though some say infrastructure – bases – cannot be touched, Dempsey said, the money has to come from somewhere. He acknowledged that the necessary choices ahead won’t be easy, but noted that defense leaders have to make them.

“By the way, I didn’t pass the Budget Control Act,” he said. “I didn’t say, ‘Hey how about hitting me with a bill for $500 billion?’”

So, Dempsey told the group, Pentagon officials face finding cuts across the Defense Department as proportionally as possible. “We’re going to need to get our infrastructure under control,” he said.

At some level, Dempsey said, the department has to run like a business. “That’s why manpower costs have to be on the table, just like infrastructure,” he added.

Members of Congress may tell the Defense Department another round of base realignments and closures won’t happen, the chairman said.

“But we’ve got to make it clear [to Congress],” he added, “if you withhold my ability to balance this thing, you could create some problems you don’t want to face downstream.”




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