Order Code RS21535
Updated July 28, 2003
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Military Base Closures:
Implementing the 2005 Round
David E. Lockwood
Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
The first significant steps in implementing the new 2005 base closure law were
formally announced by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on November 15, 2002.
These included development of a force structure plan, conducting a comprehensive
inventory of military installations, and establishing criteria for selecting bases for
closure or realignment. Concurrently, many communities near military facilities are
experiencing anxiety about their future. Efforts, on their part, to protect these bases
include improving infrastructure near bases and forming partnerships with the military.
On Capitol Hill, some Members question the wisdom of conducting a new round at this
time, when the national security environment is uncertain. On May 22, 2003, the House
passed its FY2004 defense authorization bill (H.R. 1588). It contained a provision that
would exempt half of domestic bases from being closed. On May 22, 2003, the Senate
passed its version of the defense bill (S. 1050), in which it provided for a commission
to review overseas bases. This report will be updated to reflect major developments.
On November 15, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued a
memorandum to senior staff regarding the implementation of the new round of base
closures and realignments authorized by Congress in 2001.2 He emphasized that, as part
of Department of Defense’s transformation initiative, “new force structures must be
accompanied by a new base structure,” and added that “BRAC 2005 should be the means
by which we reconfigure our current infrastructure [bases] into one in which operational
For prior information on BRAC rounds, see CRS Report RL30051, Military Base Closures:
Agreement on a 2005 Round, by David E. Lockwood, 15 p.
U.S. Congress, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (P.L. 107-107).
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
capacity maximizes both war fighting capability and efficiency.”3 He, then, directed that
the process begin immediately. It was, in effect, the formal launching of DOD’s 2005
base closure implementation process.4
The Secretary of Defense also revealed in his memo a particularly important BRAC
2005 objective, namely examining and implementing opportunities for greater joint
activity as a means of achieving a more efficient base structure. He explained that prior
BRAC rounds had analyzed functions on a unique service-to-service approach and,
therefore, did not benefit from joint examination of functions that cross services. It would
appear, for example, that DOD’s network of more than 100 laboratories may become
prime candidates for consolidation in the next round.
In respect to the selection process, Secretary Rumsfeld declared that DOD would not
make any binding closure or realignment decisions prior to the submission of its final
recommendations to the new BRAC commission in May 2005. It should be noted,
however, that his statement left open the possibility (if not likelihood) of DOD
conducting internal, non-binding deliberations.
To underscore the importance of the new BRAC round, Secretary Rumsfeld has
created two Office of the Secretary of Defense-level groups to oversee and operate the
BRAC 2005 process. First of these is the Infrastructure Executive Council (IEC), chaired
by the Deputy Secretary. It serves as the policy-making and oversight body for the entire
process. The second, subordinate group is the Infrastructure Steering Group (ISG),
chaired by the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Testing, and Logistics). It will
be responsible for the detailed direction necessary to conduct the BRAC 2005 analyses.
Early Requirements and Developments
In implementing the 2005 round, DOD’s first three requirements are (1) to develop
a force structure plan, (2) to conduct a comprehensive inventory of military installations,
and (3) to establish criteria for selecting bases for closure or realignment.
In regard to the first, the Secretary of Defense must develop a force structure plan
based on an assessment of the probable threats to the national security over a 20-year
period, beginning with fiscal year 2005. He is also required to estimate the end-strength
levels and the major military force units needed to meet such threats. Finally, the
Secretary of Defense must estimate the anticipated level of funding that will be necessary
to carry out the plan.
Second, the Secretary of Defense is required to conduct a comprehensive inventory
of U.S. military installations. He must, under the terms of the new BRAC law, determine
the anticipated need and availability of military installations outside the United States.
In addition, the Secretary of Defense must give special consideration to any efficiencies
that might be gained from the use of joint tenancy by more than one branch of the Armed
Forces at a military installation.
U.S. Department of Defense, Transformation Through Base Realignment and Closure,
November 15, 2002.
Hereafter, any reference in this report to “closure” may also include “realignment.”
Third, the Secretary of Defense must develop a set of criteria for selecting bases for
closure and realignment. He must address a broad range of military, fiscal, and
environmental considerations likely to affect closure and realignment decisions. In prior
rounds, DOD assigned highest priority to four criteria related to military value. An
additional four included return on investment, economic impact, community
infrastructure, and environmental impact. The eight final DOD selection criteria, as
contained in the 1995 base closure commission report, are outlined below.
1. Current and future mission requirements and impact on operational readiness of
DOD’s total force.
2. Availability and condition of land, facilities, and associated airspace at both the
existing and potential receiving locations.
3. Ability to accommodate contingency, mobilization, and future total force requirements
at both the existing and potential receiving locations.
4. Cost and manpower implications.
Return on Investment
5. Extent and timing of potential costs and savings, including the number of years,
beginning with the date of completion of the closure or realignment, for the savings
to exceed the costs.
6. Economic impact on communities.
7. Ability of both existing and potential receiving communities’ infrastructure to support
forces, missions, and personnel.
8. Environmental impact.
Efforts to Prevent Military Base Closures5
As a result of the impending new round of base closures and realignments, many
community leaders are searching for ways to protect nearby military installations. In their
efforts, they have received much encouragement and financial support from their
respective state and local governments. Millions of dollars are currently being spent to
improve the infrastructure near bases, with the intent of ensuring their survival.
The information provided in this section, as well as in the next, is derived in large part from two
articles by George Cahlink: “Bracing for Closure,” Government Executive, Aug. 1, 2001; and
“White House Threatens Veto of Defense Bill over Limits on Base Closure,” Government
Executive, May 23, 2003.
In 2001, the state of California provided $400,000 in “retention grants” to help local
communities hold on to their bases and weapons programs. As an example, the state
awarded $50,000 to Lancaster, CA to study the design of an instrumentation and
calibration system involving the Joint Strike Fighter at Edwards Air Force Base. Other
grants have been awarded to (1) establish links between military bases and state
universities; (2) utilize the potential for public-private partnerships; and (3) consider
exchanging military land with private developers in return for building new base facilities.
In another example, a non-profit community organization in Shrevesport, LA offered
to build and refurbish more than 300 housing units at Barksdale Air Force Base — at no
additional cost to DOD. The offer was made after many complaints about the inadequacy
of its military housing.
When asked for advice on how to prevent base closures, one leading former defense
official answered that the communities should emphasize existing strengths and new
partnerships with the military. “Our advice to the communities,” he said, “was always the
same — make sure the strengths of your facility are known.”
Current BRAC- Related Developments
On May 22, 2003, the House passed its defense authorization bill (H.R. 1588). It
included a provision that would exempt half of domestic bases from being closed. The
bill, also, would require the Department of Defense to maintain a sufficient number of
bases to handle a surge in military forces in the event of a future crisis.
Also, on May 22, 2003, the Senate passed its version of the defense bill (S. 1050).
It did not contain any significant domestic base closure issue, but did provide authority
for creation of a commission to review overseas bases. On the previous day, the White
House had threatened to veto any bill if it included language delaying or cancelling
DOD’s ability to conduct another round of closures.6
On June 4, 2002, Senator Byron Dorgan offered an amendment to repeal the
authority for a new base closure round in 2005. He said he could not think of a worse
time to consider such a step. Senator Trent Lott, a co-sponsor of the amendment,
concurred. He explained that: “At this time, we have not properly assessed our needs. We
are at war. It sends a terrible signal, and it is bad for the economy.” He later suggested
that, perhaps, delaying the next round to 2006 might be worth considering.”7 In the final
vote, the amendment was defeated 42 to 53 — a margin that many might regard as
In contrast, letters sent to the committees by Pentagon officials strenuously argued
that DOD was overburdened with an infrastructure that was simply no longer needed to
support the size of the U.S. forces. The Secretary of Defense stressed that “BRAC
Carolyn Skorneck and Pat Towell, “House, Senate Pass Different Versions of Defense
Authorization Measure,” CQ Today, May 23, 2003.
U.S. Government Printing Office. Congressional Record. June 4, 2003, p. S7288.
provides the opportunity to configure our infrastructure to maximize capability and
On July 1, 2003, DOD officials issued a memo reorganizing its installations and
environment office in anticipation of the impending 2005 base realignment and closure
round. It has created a new BRAC directorate that will identify which bases to eliminate.
In the past, DOD has acceded to the individual services’ recommendations on closures.
In the new round, it appears the Office of the Secretary of Defense will exercise a much
greater degree of control.
In a recent development, the House defense appropriations bill for 2004 included a
provision that would close Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, Puerto Rico’s largest
employer. Several Members of Congress insisted that without the live-fire bombing range
on Vieques island, there was little military value in retaining the military base.
The Senate’s appropriations bill did not contain language closing the base, but
Senator James Inhofe said that he expected the base-closing provision to survive in the
final version of the conference committee.9 Under the terms of the new military base
closure statute,10 however, Section 2909 (a) states that “during the period beginning on
November 5, 1990, and ending on April 15, 2006, this part shall be the exclusive authority
for selecting for closure and realignment, or for carrying out any closure or realignment
of, a military installation inside the United States.”11
Ibid., p. S7289.
James G. Lakely, End of Live Bombing at Vieques Makes Base, Jobs Expendable, Washington
Times, July 21, 2003, p. A1and 14.
U.S. Code Annotated, Title 10, Armed Forces, 2003, p. 162.