Warm, Cold, or Closed Bases

The Air Force is “exploring” its authorities to move forces around and put some bases in “warm” or “cold” status, without triggering Base Realignment and Closure laws, acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning said Monday. Speaking at an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast series, Fanning said sequester will demand force structure cuts that will make it difficult to put planes at at some bases. “We don’t have a lot of authority to do things with basing,” Fanning said, and even small transfers could trigger BRAC laws. He suggested “cold” basing would be all but padlocking a facility, while a “warm” base might continue a few functions without the main mission. Both are very wasteful, he said. “It’s the worst of all possible worlds,” because not only does the USAF have to pay to maintain an unneeded facility, but the community loses the opportunity to re-use the base in a new way. Meanwhile, a smaller personnel footprint hurts the local economy. Moreover, Fanning noted, the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force and a the Total Force Task Force—an internal Air Force task force—were meant to “inform” budget deliberations for Fiscal 2016, but sequester will compel force structure cuts before that, possibly rendering them moot.