Smith Tries for BRAC, McKeon Shoots Him Down

Reps. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., and Adam Smith, D-Wash. at a press conference following a national security hearing on Capitol Hill

Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP

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Reps. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., and Adam Smith, D-Wash. at a press conference following a national security hearing on Capitol Hill

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee says his proposal would avoid the costly mistakes of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure. By Ben Watson

The ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee member is adding an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would let the Pentagon to close excess military facilities.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said his proposal for another Base Realignment and Closure would be different than the 2005 round, which only eliminated just 3 percent of the excess infrastructure cited in 2004 and wound up ballooning from an initial estimate of $21 billion to $35 billion.

“Given that the last BRAC round transformed more than it closed and has cost more and saved less than original estimates, members of Congress have justifiable reservations about giving the Department of Defense authority to conduct another round,” Smith said in a statement on Tuesday.

HASC Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., quickly shot it down. “I understand Mr. Smith’s concern, and I applaud him for his courage but it’s not going to be in the defense bill this year for sure,” McKeon told Breaking Defense.

Still, the last four defense secretaries have pushed for BRAC round since the last one in 2005. The Pentagon saves roughly $4 billion a year from the 2005 round, which closed 11 installations and realigned another 53 across the globe at a cost of $18 billion in construction. But because of those costs, savings don’t actually kick in until 2018.

Smith said the money saved from his proposed round of BRAC depends on what facilities would be closed, but the said savings would have to be seen “within five years.” His plan calls for an independent commission, public feedback and a staff large enough to review recommendations from the Defense Department on where and how the closures would occur.

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