Pentagon preps chopping block for next round of base closures

continued from page 2

“Not only are the wounds still too fresh for members of Congress from DOD’s last bungled round of base closures in 2005, it is hard to take the Pentagon’s base closure requests seriously in the 2013 budget since they did not allocate any money to prosecute the closures nor calculate any savings from the process,” Ms. Eaglen said.

Cuts and compromise

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is already on record as saying he will oppose the base-closing authorization in his 2013 defense budget bill, which his committee will write in early May.

“Kill it. That’s going to be our approach,” the California Republican has said.

Mr. McKeon is squarely at odds with Mr. Panetta, who said: “It’s a fundamental problem we have to confront. As we draw down the force, we’ve got to take a look at the infrastructure that’s supporting the remaining force. And the reality is that we are going to have to be able to reduce that infrastructure.”

This month, however, Mr. Panetta found out how difficult it is to eliminate local jobs in downsizing the military.

His 2013 budget in February called for the Air National Guard to cut 5,000 personnel and more than 200 aircraft: The budget reduction quickly showed the defense secretary how fast states and small towns can mobilize to stop military cuts.

On Monday, Mr. Panetta proposed a compromise, pledging in a letter to Congress to restore nearly 2,200 jobs and two-dozen C-130 transport planes in three Air Guard squadrons.

Joe Kasper, a spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, said the Air Force’s targeting of the Guard makes lawmakers leery of giving the Pentagon another base-closing round.

Mr. Hunter has drawn up an amendment that would limit the Air Force’s ability to retire Guard aircraft.

“On a big-picture level, the Air Force sees the Guard and Reserve as a safe place to go for savings, which is somewhat contradictory when the Guard and Reserve are still doing a lot of the heavy lifting overseas,” Mr. Kasper said.

Mr. Hunter “doesn’t support the cuts, and he’s definitely not enthusiastic about talk of another BRAC round,” Mr. Kasper said. “This suddenly doesn’t make BRAC appealing, nor should it.”

Mr. Korb said the Air Guard dust-up shows why there should be another BRAC to take such issues out of the hands of Congress.

Congress is in no mood to make domestic cuts, given the state of our economy,” he said.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks