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Referring to the Pentagon’s “vast portfolio,” the report says it operates 542,000 facilities at 5,000 sites on more than 28 million acres.

In the U.S., the Pentagon operates 4,127 sites, including a reserve training center, an ammunition depot and a sprawling Army base. Each site would be reviewed by the military if Congress were to approve a base closure commission.

After the last BRAC assessment, seven years ago, the commission closed 185 sites and realigned 135.

Heritage’s Mr. Bucci said “it is near impossible” for the Pentagon to close a base unilaterally.

The president has the authority to do so, but lawmakers have set up speed bumps that require the Pentagon to first notify Congress if a site employs a certain number of workers.

Choosing to close one base over another could spark a civil war on Capitol Hill, as well as moves to block closure by crafting legislation to deny needed funds.

Without a BRAC, pending automatic defense spending cuts of more than $500 billion, set to begin in January, become even more damaging, Mr. Bucci said.

“If you cannot close installations, the only way to make those draconian cuts is to eliminate people and modernization programs,” he said. “This too will kill jobs, both in the military and in any associated businesses.”