Joint Basing Provision Raises McCain Ire

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), frequent Air Force critic and now presumed Republican candidate for President has instigated an investigation over whether senior Air Force officials had inappropriately assisted Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in crafting a provision in the 2008 war supplemental that would outflank BRAC 2005 on the creation of joint bases, reports The Hill. The newspaper quotes a letter McCain sent Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England last month: “I believe it is inappropriate for senior Air Force officials to lobby legislators to delay or overturn BRAC decisions.” To which England replied that DOD does not condone such actions and furthermore the Pentagon “strongly opposes” the provision. A spokesman for Inouye told The Hill that the two Senators want the Pentagon to “slow down and rethink the joint basing approach” because it may “create more problems than provide for military efficiency.” The Air Force has the lead for six and is involved in 10 of the 12 joint bases identified in BRAC 2005. And, according to testimony last month before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee by Kathleen Ferguson, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for installations, the service has “expressed concern” over the proposed “execution strategy” that it feels might “impact mission.” (Indeed, Air Force officials complained to Congress last year that the service needed more time to assess the impact.) However, she asserted that USAF “is not advocating any position that would inhibit carrying out any BRAC recommendations.” Meanwhile, the Air Force is investigating the matter.