Guess What’s BRAC?

Unlike the drawdown the US military experienced in the 1990s, America faces a far more diverse array of national security challenges today as it withdraws and retools from the decade-plus war in Afghanistan, the Defense Department leadership told reporters on Wednesday while unveiling the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2014 budget request. Accordingly, DOD must adjust its spending. “This budget continues to balance the compelling needs of supporting troops at war in Afghanistan, implementing the President’s defense strategic guidance, and sustaining the quality of the all-volunteer force,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during the April 10 briefing. The Fiscal 2014 proposal sets out a list of initiatives to achieve these ends, most notably the request for a new BRAC round in Fiscal 2015. Hagel called the BRAC process a “comprehensive and fair” tool. To pay for BRAC costs up front—since Congress has criticized previous rounds over the costs—Hagel said DOD is allotting $2.4 billion for the five-year period starting in Fiscal 2014. Tied to the proposed BRAC round, DOD wants to shrink its civilian workforce by about 5 percent between now and 2018, according to DOD’s budget documents. About half of these reductions depend on infrastructure consolidation and reduced demand for services, such as depot maintenance, said DOD officials. (Hagel-Dempsey transcript) (See also Hale-Ramsay transcript)