Rethinking BRAC

Though Congress has declined to authorize a new base realignment and closure round, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee told reporters Thursday he believes “mental progress has been made” on Capitol Hill. Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said there is an increasing number of members who believe some sort of action on Department of Defense infrastructure will be necessary sooner than later. The Association of Defense Communities, a group that lobbies on behalf of areas with a large DOD presence, recently visited Congress to tell it to take action, he added. “They are telling Congress,? ‘do a BRAC,’” Smith said, because they argue the current “death by a thousand cuts” approach is worse. DOD has cut jobs and staffing, but because of legal restrictions it must keep maintaining buildings and infrastructure even if they are all but empty. “It’s just prolonging things,” Smith said, adding communities are telling Congress to do a BRAC so they can make other plans for underused sites. As a result, the notion in Congress that a BRAC is “completely unacceptable” is no longer the case among most members, Smith believes. There would be a “small up front cost,” but significant savings in the long run, and the argument that we need to examine overseas basing has run its course. What can be closed and reorganized abroad has been “more or less done at this point,” Smith added.