The Army’s assistant secretary for Installations, Energy and Environment told senators that the Army needs another round of base realignment and closure in 2017.
Katherine G. Hammack, along with her Defense Department and service counterparts, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee April 2. She presented the Army’s fiscal year 2015 military construction, or MILCON, and Army family housing budget request, which reflects an overall 39 percent reduction from fiscal year 2014, in MILCON accounts.
The Army’s fiscal year 2015 budget includes $13 billion for installation energy, environmental programs, facility sustainment, restoration and modernization, base operations support and MILCON. As part of the $13 billion, the Army requested $1.3 billion for military construction, Army family housing and base closure accounts.
Further break-down of funding would designate $539 million to the active Army; $127 million for the National Guard; $104 million for the Army Reserve, $429 million for Army family housing and $84 million for Base Closure accounts.
Hammack addressed the Army’s reduced force structure and the impact it would have on infrastructure. With the end of ground combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army will be on a path to shrink its active-duty end strength from its peak of 570,000 Soldiers, to between 440,000 and 450,000. This reduction of 120,000 to 130,000 Soldiers, or about 22 percent, will affect every installation in the Army, according to her written testimony.
The Defense Department had directed a European Infrastructure Consolidation review for the purpose of reducing expenses by eliminating excess capacity in Europe, Hammack said.
“Our strategy is to consolidate on larger, more capable installations, divest older and inadequate infrastructure and invest in the remaining footprint in order to provide adequate facilities to accomplish our mission, while meeting the needs of our Soldiers and their families,” she testified.
Hammack went on to state the Army had been downsizing its footprint in both Europe and Asia for many years in the post-Cold War era, adding that since 2006, Army end strength in Europe had declined by 45 percent and, “We are on track to shrink the supporting infrastructure, overhead and operating budgets by about half.
“Inside the United States, however, the best and proven way to address excess and shortfalls in facility requirements in a cost-effective and fair manner is through the BRAC (base realignment and closure) Commission process,” she stressed.
“The Army continues to need additional BRAC authorization to reduce excess infrastructure effectively,” she added. “As the Army’s end strength and force structure decline alongside its available funding, hundreds of millions of dollars will be wasted maintaining underutilized buildings and infrastructure.”