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The Air Force has let it be known that it is looking to close bases, not just shut a few small installations.

“Bottom line is, BRAC 2005 did not close major Air Force installations. It largely realigned installations,” Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month.

If the service does not shutter bases, he said, “we will place the force again under more pressure to put spending into excess capacity, when it should go into readiness and modernization.”

The Air Force tried to close Ellsworth Air Force Base, which houses B-1B Lancer long-range bombers in South Dakota. But the state mounted a grass-roots campaign to keep the base and its jobs. The BRAC 2005 panel voted 8-1 to keep it open.

‘Didn’t save a nickel’

Mr. Korb is a resident expert on BRAC.

As a senior Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, he worked with Sen. Barry Goldwater in the 1980s to create the first one. The senator discovered that it was politically impossible to garner the votes to close job- and revenue-producing posts in hundreds of congressional districts.

The genius in BRAC is its inoculation from direct political interference. The Pentagon submits a list. The commission, whose members are named by Republicans and Democrats, can add or subtract bases. Congress then can accept the list in total or vote to reject, which has yet to happen.

The Army does not need BRAC to shrink its footprint overseas.

In Europe, it has closed 97 sites and returned 23,000 acres to host countries since BRAC 2005. Another 23 locations, most in Germany, will shut down in the next four years. In South Korea, the Army has closed or will close more than 50 installations.

Mr. Korb said the Pentagon should not repeat the mistakes of 2005, when it proposed closing nearly 180 installations. The most glaring mistake was the Navy’s bid to close the New London, Conn., submarine base, even though General Dynamics Electric Boat, the manufacturer, was located there.

In too many cases, he said, personnel were shifted to new locations instead of jobs being eliminated.

“It didn’t save a nickel. It was done so poorly,” Mr. Korb said. “It counted savings that were not savings.”

The upfront cost of BRAC 2005 was steep, amounting to $35 billion for conducting studies, moving personnel, refurbishing facilities and the like. Today, the Pentagon says, BRAC 2005 is saving $5 billion annually by reducing the number of bases the military operates.

Ms. Eaglen, who was an official in the Donald H. Rumsfeld-era Pentagon, said it is doubtful Congress will vote this year, an election year, to authorize a BRAC 2013.

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