tv Base Realignment and Closure Process CSPAN September 5, 2017 10:48pm-12:04am EDT
[inaudible] >> tonight, discussion about the commission and the possibility of future military base closures. the realignment or closure is a process for eliminating and consolidating military facilities. the last round in 2005. [inaudible] [inaudible] >> good morning and welcome to the heritage foundation.
look on those who joined us on our heritage.org website as well as those joining us on the c-span network. for those in house we ask the courtesy to see the mobile devices have been silenced or turned off to avoid any unnecessary distractions. for those online you're welcome to send questions or, at any time by e-mailing speaker at heritage.org. will post the program on the heritage homepage for your future reference following the presentation straight. leading our discussion i want from our guest is fred rico, fred is a policy analyst for defense budgeting in the center for national defense at the heritage foundation. please welcome fred. [applause] >> think everyone for making the time to come here in this first day of congress being back into
which i assume is busy for everyone. first, i will introduce her guest and then explain that if you're here by accident and don't know what this is, i will give you a two-minute introduction to make sure the audience knows as well while talking of the same thing. so, to my left -- my the assistant secretary of defense it dod. he served as a professional staff member on the up service special committee will provide oversight for 2005 -- round. a retired air force officer and national guard services. to his left is anthony, chairman of the 2005 commission in 2001 through 2005 he was secretary of virginia.
tony has multiple -- and he is a graduate of the u.s. naval academy in annapolis. to his left is andrew hunter. a senior fellow at the international security program and director of the initiative group as csi us. he's worked a senior executive it dod and chief of staff-carter and frank kendall while working. he also served as professional staff member has staff armed services committee before all of that. so, this was created as political compromise between executives of the legislative branch the power -- the initially the executive is on the basis to be close.
they're able to stop all closures. this reporting requirements. they were only overcome with the creation of brack. enter a is establishment of criteria for possible closures. dod has a list of recommendations which are assessed by an independent nine person commission before going to the president and congress for approval. the first round took place in 1980 followed by three consecutive rounds and 91, 93, 95. the last round took place in 2005. twelve years later authorizing a new round is part of the political discussion. the need is based on estimates we currently have over 20% of the infrastructure. the resources dedicated would be better allocated somewhere else in the defense budget.
to talk about why we need this now, the secretary is going to inform us on that. >> i appreciate that. i appreciate the opportunity to talk at heritage on this important topic. and one that is timely. for those who watch the on goings of congress from day-to-day we know the senate is about to consider the fy 19 defense authorization act on the senate floor. we do have an amendment pending for both the chairman and ranking member that provide for an authorization of the closure. it's important to talk to and take questions and talk about why we believe the department is in a good place to request via authorization. to carried out with the intent of congress and what they're looking for cost savings and the ability to make this more
effective. some quick hits for my background, when i was in the air force and on the committee and ultimately now serving in a new capacity. have been on the job for three weeks. two of those i've been traveling just got back from 60s and gone. if i start to not off it's because i'm still on guam time. to really look at it back is been a great process of the department of defense to take a look at itself where do we need to look at what's happening in the world of weapon systems and how do we join it domestically with the next and then maximize the effectiveness of it. if you look back on it congress has shared this position and
provided in this authorization for five previous rounds. for those of us here who say there's no way congress will authorize the brack, my responses that they've done appointed times before so i think congress believes in that to conduct a process that is free and transparent. look at what the authorization provides. we need to step back. or that it's a standing authority, the only standing authority that the commander-in-chief has now is to close military installations. standing in the way of that is section 2067 which provides an onerous component which made it tough for the secretary to get recommendations to the hill and
have it consider. that resulted in a separate legislation that allows for a transparent and open process for them to have recommendations which would take a look at it for the president. the value of that legislation to communities is immeasurable. not that any community wants to suffer from a closure, but if you look at the law there's about 20 pages that talk about how the secretary will conduct the review and how the commission will consider the recommendation. the rest of the law is a series of actions that allow communities to quickly redevelop the property. about a hundred pages of the authority for the establishment agencies. and also an opportunity for funding for the department of defense to assist.
if you look at it, send it back from what the department is trying to do, brack really does provide not just a transparent process, but a great to of ability for the department of defense to assist the communities impacted. if you look at it from that standpoint in the community faced with the reduction of forces or the potential of being closed, they are much would prefer under the brack process rather than understand or process where you declared, you go no further than test the folks in the community surrounding the sugar grove and west virginia's are struggling to fix a figure out what to do with that parcel. that was close by the navy couple years ago under authority other than brack with that said,
the department has asked for request an authorization can to conduct a brack over the last five years. in the past the request was based on the justification there could be an efficiency to be gained, this offer dubs an opportunity to see where we might have excess capacity to close or reduce basis in order to eliminate. no doubt it's a noble cause and even in our administration that's one of the goals. the more important thing right now is the department of defense. the facts were undergoing a process in the department for the review and update of a national defense strategy. also looking at a new realm an era of new technologies and methods of warfare. emerging capabilities and will
fifth generation weapon systems. for us that needs an updated basis strategy and emerging national defense. that is the sole and primary reason why congress allowing the ability to make prudent decisions on where to put our forces. we go back to secretary mattis when he took over secretary defense. he wants to address readiness concerns increase military capabilities and enhance lethality. from my perspective working from him this process offers the opportunity to address readiness by providing our forces the best ranges and installation for them to be stationed at. . .
>> will thank you. thank you fred and heritage foundation for having us here today to talk about a very important topic and i'm certainly pleased to join with my colleagues, my former colleagues and andrew in discussing it. i recall in 1993 after i was leaving the first bush of i received a call from senator strom thurmond who was ranking
judiciary committee and i was ready to go back to california and practice law. he says i needed to be my staff director and armed services. charleston naval shipyard was on that -- and i accepted the invitation to go back to the armed services committee. i should have learned my lesson that someone asked you to chair brac you say no when you move on but it didn't and started in 2005 and i just want to build on what lucian said. it's been if brac is authorized to take place in 2020 when that will be 16 years since the last brac and think about the changes that have taken place instruments in the army combat air wings brigades changes in technology emergency technology and how that impacts our defense establishment changing the threat environment if we still have the same footprint. at the same time there's really
a brac going but it's a brac on the radar screen kind of scope brac. they are limited in terms of closing military bases but the air force because it touches very constraints to people so brigades have consolidated and other changes are taking place so you have a lot of racist. you need to heed the need to cool. that can be better expended advancing our defense establishment and our national security concerns. one could make the argument that indeed we need to have a brac and the women and men charged with leading our defense establishment has been pleading for brac over several demonstrations including as lucian indicated the current administration has done so as well. 2005 was unlike any other brac in my view and limited experience in the 1993 brac
great but in terms of major and minor closures and realignments double the number produced backgrounds combined. 190 recommendations that have 783 distinct closure realignment actions associated with it because the way the brac recommendations are structured and secretary rumsfeld made it very clear that this was not about cost savings. this was about military transformation and i'm not sure we carry the ball over the goal line but we certainly moved move it down the field somewhat and unlike other creepiest brac we were combating an ongoing time a stable order enforcing for structure. 2005 is increasing in the projected deployment of 70,000 troops and their families from asia and europe so that's the
context upon which the 2005 brac took place. a number of things went well. i was blessed to have a commission of three retired four-star flag officers army-navy and air force cabinet officials and two former members of congress both republican and democrat, former secretary of defense has served as assistant secretary of energy in the white house office of technology really an expert nuclear power matters and the former retired two-star major general who was the head of the air force school so indeed the commission had people of experience the flag officers on the inside of the military whose advice was invaluable to all of us on the commission. we also have an incredible professional staff who had served on previous brac
detailees from jail in the pentagon who came to work on the staff working 24/7 for period of time and of course as lucian mentioned it was an open and transparent process. you'd never take politics out of it never take -- completely out of that we tried to make it transparent and apolitical. 183 site visits to military installations around the country, 40 hearings around the country in washington and having to produce a report for congress. number things went wrong. when we were nominated confirmation by president bush one senator wanted to kill brac soy put a hold on all of our nomination so he had to wait for the day after we received this volume of information from dod the recommendation of all the data they determined oh my gosh this is classified. when you consolidate all this
information that becomes classified so we had to wait until the c. class and that's the time. of course we only had four months upon which to act on all of these recommendations. cost issues, i mean you know the quantitative analysis that had gone to determine cost savings based on the model cost of raise realignment actions. gao found it was a reasonable calculator to determine what the cost of savings were as you can. these various military bases that the problem was they underestimated the requirements. for example they estimated implementation costs or new construction to be 13.4 billion. it turned out to be 25-point $5 billion that for the underestimated the information technology requirements that
caused significant amount of money to implement brac and importantly the underestimated the personnel costs savings by saying if you close a military base in the 5000 people you have 5000 troops cost saving that there is the reduction in force structure. those people which is the moves of the savings they projected at $45 billion over 10 or 20 years, i don't recall really was less so those are some of the things that went wrong that i'm hopeful when the next brac round comes those issues are identified and addressed. i will conclude. we are blessed to have lucian as the secretary of installations energy and environment in knowing basically living brac on the arms committee staff so with that i will conclude than happy to answer any questions you might have. >> i'm going to talk a little bit about the environment for
brac on the hill both big picture and the current situation. i'm going to start big picture and what is the logic of brac alighted brac never work and why might it work again? i want to start actually with what i think is the key point which is brac is always hard and it's not popular. it's not something congress likes to do so the key element is that there has to be a champion. there has to be someone in congress that is highly respected he was taking the sauna and pushing it forward and of necessity. that needs to be somebody who is is -- who cares and in the past various folks have served that role. the last was senator warner who served that role and what is interesting and notable and i think very significant this years that we have a champion
who stepped forward and senator mccain along with his colleague senator reed together to serve. that's a really critical and i think the critical event and i should recognize congressman smith has been there for some time as the ranking member pushing the issue which was incredibly helpful and move the process forward. as the ranking member he's in a position to really push it through and that's a key element of fell into place this year. the basic formula the previous brac operated on is that they started the level and though the authority is granted when there are no specific winners or losers the authority has been granted when in theory everyone could be either a winner or loser. in reality a lot of members of congress either know or believe that they have a target on their back when it comes to brac so they think they are at risk and by the way there are winners and brac although we tend to think
of it as a losing game. i happen to work for one member of congress during my stint on the hill who gained out of every background gained substantially out of every brac round and interestingly enough to lucian's point in the secretary's point about brac the one that didn't benefit from brac of lost a lot of work was the shipyard district because the navy got smaller so courses should fear god smaller. they never benefited because there was no brac benefit. there is a decline in the number of ships and they lost after the personnel and never received assistance as a result of 50% decrease in their scope. understood brac his district was the gainer so there are winners and brac and in many cases folks
who are like the to win know who they are. one of the key formulas is the brac authority is granted before the winners and losers have been definitively identified then when the recommendations come back from the commission it's an up-or-down vote and trying to stop something that's in process rather than affirmatively voting to close someone else's space. you are just voting to keep the process going and generally speaking the political, the winners in the process have been able to say the process work its will. it's not that we are greedy and trying to disadvantage our colleagues but all we are doing in the point is thwarting authority. i will circle back to that point and get to where we are with today the current situation in congress. congress has obviously really struggled to cope with brac and the i.d. of the new brac round.
other objections raised upfront costs during a time when the department was hit with the spending reduction in 2013 as a result of the budget control act obviously there was a strong logic for savings but one of the concerns was right now the first two years of sequestration in the budget was low lowest was the biggest cut at that point there would have been an increased cost if they would have done it at that the time when the department started requesting it at that point. the idea that funding is the shortest now that but you need your money today to start closing bases we don't want that. that's not a political winner at that time. upfront costs have always been a concern. obviously the concern of economic communities of job loss is a huge concern for members of congress.
as i mentioned that's tempered by the fact that there's a relatively small number of folks that get close. there's a small number of losers there has been traditionally concerned and in fact brac originated out of closures and that remains a concern. every brac round found a way to detect politicization whether it's really there or not in the process. is one reason why the issue is of military value has been so pro found. the recommendations seem to be based on those and that gets a little complicated as secretary principi indicated to have to crunch the numbers someone turns his military guy you into the number that we can then compare it to costs. it's a tricky thing to do. and then the other issue that is concerning to members of congress is the idea of capacity
laws. once you give up land you will never get it back. again lucian didn't make this point directly to the history of the department says that the department has acquired land from time to time. there's nothing that says is the first principal that once you give something up you will never get it back. that's the general time this was operated on so even where there has been a fairly obvious mismatch with force structure and base structure congress has still said well but you know that's only today. what about 10 years from today and what about 20 years from today? doing a brac is in your vocal decision that we can't come back from and we determine later that her needs have changed and we have got to move or word. as lucian clearly explained that argument works both ways between what we need today and what we have in terms of infrastructure and i agree with him that we are
there. let me talk a little bit about where things stand on the hill. i mentioned the key fact, the most overriding fact is that we now have a champion and now three out of four champions with the senior leaders in the armed services committee guaranteed that they can get their members to go along with them and vote for it but it's definitely a sine qua non-for brac coming to pass. there was a vote on the house side that i don't think it was a terribly perfect predictor of where the votes actually are. in the house but there was an amendment to the house version of the authorization bill on mcclintock authorization that was to strike a section of the bill that's been in there for a number years but said nothing in the bill should be interpreted to authorize brac. that was i guess detective language because there is other language in the bill because there have been prior background some of which are still being executed that talk about
offering brac activities and they wanted to make it clear, that the old brac round. it's clearly illustrated. brac legislation is 200 pages long so anything the bill would be opportune -- offered. i mentioned that only because voting against that in striking that language may not mean someone is your vocal plea post to brac because it's relatively easy for a member to say this language is pretty harmless. why do we need to strike it out? the vote was 175-248. he was pretty balanced balance between republican and democrats so for both parties striking down language and the significant amount of persistence to striking it. one thing i would say as a longtime house staffers unlike in the senate where each vote is a struggle to get one vote most of the house don't come one by
one. they come in tens and 20s because like-minded members tend to vote together and have voted together. generally you have turn one you turn 10 to 15 votes and sometimes 20 to 30 depending on the size of block you were working there. i would say that vote 218 is only two to 2.5 blocks away from becoming a guess. that's really not that far when you think about it. if you can address some of the concerns that congress has had. it's not necessarily that far when the house with the leadership in the senate coming on board and it's always been the senate that has taken the lead on brac and made it happen i don't see me reason that that's likely to change. there is real hope this year that they might be able to get there. the other point that is worth making in the hill did last year
or the year before authorize the department to do the excess capacity analysis that has now become one of the major justifications for bases for their request to brac showing there's 22% excess infrastructure. that also was a bit of a weakening and the resistance in congress to the idea of a brac. one interesting thing about that is almost none of it is department of the navy. the navy essentially took a knee on brac and thinking they have probably done enough and notwithstanding there were some recommendation turnarounds that were turned down by the commission where they you would think the navy would not again but the navy is good at detecting clear messages and they saw the handwriting on the wall. really excess capacity is in the army and air force are not sure what political dynamic that has.
it may make them, it's hard to know the political dynamics of that. it may make it less compelling because there's less opportunity so they won't be as many winners as there have been in the past. i'm not sure the clinical dynamics of that but i suspect it's significant that the navy didn't identify excess capacity. the last thing i will say is brac was really the cure for the overriding concern about politicization and really to some extent the cure was to become the disease. people felt like the brac process itself had become problematic so congressman smith's version of the bill that he isn't just for several years and the draft that senators mccain and reid have released for discussion they have tried to address that and the cure needs to be secure again.
so the fundamental questions the hill is likely to work on in this question of there needs to be an independent arbiter in this process to make sure politicization hasn't crept in. should that be another brac commission as it has been for the previous rounds or should that be another process. one of the issues about that as i mentioned earlier previously they had the initial vote when there were no winners and losers and it was potentially defending that position later on. this is formulation potentially you would know who the winners and losers were when congress cannot devote corporate as a mentioned there's a relatively small number of losers so they could certainly work but in the past the theory has been when
you know whose faces you are targeting your vote and that may be her friend. maybe an ally for you on other issues it makes it harder than those who aren't affected by brac to vote for it. i will stop there and let us move on to questions. >> one of the things that enter product that i think is especially interesting is the analysis done in march of 2016. it has served as the crux of all of the arguments on quantifying the excess capacity. secretary niemeyer would you mind talking about it as the documents say and what are the limitations? >> there are spend concern by congress for many years, what are you really using an justifying your quest for an authorization and the staff working for senator warner and senator mccain when asked the same questions. the concern was at a time where
we are looking into growing rift or growing distinction or difference between the threats we face in the nation addressing those threats and the forces where providing on behalf of our nation to me that strategy. there's a concern that we were not taking into account the whole range of threats or using as the brac request as an underpinning for strategy. for a few years congress asked for more justification on why you have excess capacity. it's difficult for the department to do that without conducting the brac ground so congress asked as hey give us the analysis before we give you the authorization response from congress, we really need the authorization in order to -- we have an offer in. people don't realize the law does provide that for the
secretary of defense is a first-year analysis looking at the force structure looking at the defense strategy looking at what we have in threats around the world. i've done the analysis and i don't believe it's worth the expansion of the fund savings are ready to continue. he doesn't believe that brac should so -- brock should go forward and it stops. so what congress was trying to do is getting better at understanding that and it's difficult for the department to do that kind of analysis without causing concern without creating hysteria out there as far as what they are looking at. there has been no analysis until we get an authorization there will be no analysis until you get an authorization. the notion that there's a list of base closures is absolutely false. congress persisted with the alleged request in the 2015
defense authorization act to give us something. the department is trying to grapple with how do we do this without necessarily starting a brac analysis? >> came up with an idea to take a look at the ratio of existing in 1989 or 88. look at the ratio for the infrastructure we have and apply that forward to current force structure pay the original analysis was done looking at what the department of defense in 2016 felt like infrastructure with the in 2019. although congress asked for it to be applied to the force structure and fy12. the department sent over the first. reporter: congress in april 2016 that showed 22% excess capacity across dod. based on that ratio of analysis so looking at it objectively and i think this is ultimately what secretary of madison did. was there really the right ratio
and force structure and has that now become how we apply this sort? i think that's the concern he raised about that capacity analysis and whether we have 25%, 20% in the air force but i know their concerns for that but still we try, the department tried to do the best we could with the authority we had and to come up with what we felt was the best guess. first in april of 2016 congress is asking an update for the report and what they resign as per which was in fy12 process of working that package. >> one of the things that gets brought up multiple times was unique the transformational. one question that i personally have is that brac is the adequate venue to do this.
i think secretary principi would be able to comment on if that's the appropriate venue to do those transformations and the answer to that starts with what are the choices that dod has. would you mind calming inning -- commenting on that? transformation is not synonymous with jointness. transformation is not synonymous with co-location. if you look at the 2005 around many of the recommendations received were within each service. there wasn't that much cross service integration if you will. there was some but clearly that wasn't overwriting. it is an opportunity for the secretary of defense to move that all down the field in terms of true transformation of our
armed armed forces to get more operational effectiveness and joint warfighting training readiness but clearly the cost savings has to be an important factor. whether that is raised as a military value criteria set to congress. it wasn't in 2005. important yes but again as i indicated it was a charge by the commission that under secretary rumsfeld was more concerned about transformation of our military and how it was structured. going forward it's an important factor but i also think the cost savings would be equally important if not more important. >> i've been wrestling with the term transformation too could i think that was a product of the push the administration was trying to get with the rounds
and it's also a great way to separate whether the obama administration want to go with the ground. i'm not sure how you can do one without the other. every brock opportunity offers an opportunity to look at better ways to do things. if you want to call a transformational so be it. what i'm much more concerned about is how do we enhance residents. we have forces in the united states and ideally placed. it's really difficult to have to spend -- send our military forces somewhere else for training when they are already deployed for one year for every two or three years. we need to look at how do we the station those forces at locations where they can do more effective march-ish and and a wider array of full spectrum training close to where they actually live in where their
families are. if you call the transformational, okay fine. i look at that is just increasing readiness in lethality. weapon systems that have the best access i'm not sure that's transformational. i call that being able to make sure we are ready to go so i would say pointing that more towards lethality. as opposed to putting a label on what this round is going to be in what that round is going to be what we are looking at is the ground that will allow us to make a defense strategy and how it informs military value. we will have a clear indication of what military value would be for installations and applying that. to me that's what we should be focusing on. >> that's maybe the key point
because i was concerned with the obama administration thing. it's all about saving, saving, saving. the nature of the legal restrictions on moving people and closing facilities means the department is various in limited in what it would be able to do aside from outright closures and reductions in force. in terms of optimizing use of its assets and base infrastructure. the portman is not typically thought of in terms of assets. and a lot of cases it's costs of this idea of whether next rack will be to optimize our strategic posture or just the savings drilled those are two fundamentally different exercises. >> i'm a military guy and i'm responding and saving money in the next brac round and optimizing the cost savings
certainly there's opportunity there to be had but it's a very different going in point for strategic posturing. we have had a budget cut and we are going to go find things. one of the questions i wanted to pose to you andrew hunter is the resistance congresses showing. started talking about costs and economic impact political process and how that becomes politics and the capacity. how much of those concerns can be addressed through changes in the brac process and how much of those avoided painful process? >> i think they are all real at some level. i would say of all of them the upfront cost is actually true
that there's an up front costs. it's also a think in some ways the weakest reason to a pose bracket because if your answer is i can't vote for brac because -- your vote is unattainable. because there's always an up front costs involved if that's your objection there's no way to get aes. it's the most problematic for that reason. there are economic implications. lucian is pointed out very correct way that the best way to address those is through a brac. rack gives you the ability to work with communities and to reduce minimize or ultimately perverse that job loss by utilizing that land base, that facility through some other means. i get the wonderful opportunity to go to monterey and postgraduate work that we do there and seeing the development
that has happened. it has taken time but it's been a real success story. that would have been possible if we didn't have brac which was a decision by the department to close it. that's economic piece to me you can turn that around and get people on board with brac because you stand to gain from having that authority. the politicization piece where brac started was trying to address politicization is a little bit in the eye of the beholder to my view. i'm not sure i'm persuaded that there was politicization in the 2000 by round but there are some that believe that is the case. there was a lot of outrage when the clinton administration said i'm going to privatize some of the facilities on the brac round history is somewhat borne out that decision because there's
additional work going on in san antonio and that's the economic rationale for staying there. it may have made sense but that's really the tricky one. how do people feel comfortable that aspect of politicization is a draft. very dual pole but had to get the number of votes you need to make people feel they can support the due process? >> let me follow up on a little bit. i actually was part of the resistance around this. a couple of things we were paying attention to and are committee when the department was coming up with their brac requests. first of all there was a current to say we are cutting forces. everyone on the committee felt like cutting forces as a result of the budget. a lot of folks on her committee felt the military's tragedy was not connected to wear a threats
were. there was a feeling that if we felt like we were heading in the wrong direction in force structure reductions there's no way we would allow the department to introduce infrastructure so it definitely was a concern of strategy resources and threats mismatched that fueled some of the initial reaction in the authorizing of iraq but also a concern that we need to change the law end up dated is there's no way anyone including senator mccain would allow a process that resulted in the 14 billion-dollar cost overrun in 2005. there are a lot of reasons for that but bottom line that's an aircraft carrier right there. my charge was we are going to look at an authorization we have to date the law not change it fundamentally put up data to use more cost controls greater transparencies and a little bit
more accountability. so that never came over from the department of defense. that was a new sticking point. to ask for improvement in the actual lawn that was not provided. is there a version that does contain some of us cost controls? i'm still working with my colleagues to the degree this can be carried out and that's something i'll be willing to take a look at an looking forward to make sure gets authorized at those concerns kept us from entertaining the idea and it's really something we need to look at. the law does need to be updated to allow or in more effective round and a more efficient round without seeing the cost bulletin of. >> i would add i think we need to keep in mind many of the cost associated with my brac grounded 2005 came after implementation. just one example the national
geospatial agency facility was budgeted at 1.1 billion to the final cost of that was 2.5 eulian and you can go to the vast amount of construction military construction that took place in 2005. is just astronomical. you might see a little goldplating but clearly i think, i think mission implemented the law as it was drafted. we approved 86% of the recommended closure of realignment that is the historical average. we did this through a number of major closures. the submarine base which we learned was a center of excellence in assembling warfare
the naval shipyard land was the most productive shipyard and maybe pay they could turn around a nuclear sub and refurbish and refuel faster than any shipyard in the navy. the data that went into the pentagon to justify it was used by the pentagon to close it was not the data we received today was different so i think that's one advantage of the commission itself. that's not to say you cannot have a brac without the commission. you certainly can but we worked hand in glove with gao and we met with them, i met with the comptroller general several times to talk about the recommended closures. i think some of these costs came out after the implementation in 2005. >> one last thing on congressional resistance. mike, the committee the entire 11 years since i left the committee i've talked about
every state in the country. i'm not so sure that there is not a growing realization that brac revised more opportunities than it does threats. to go around the country right now the overwhelming majority but there are more and more communities are willing to sign up and say yes we want a brac because you have bases with high military value that only are six or 7% utilized that they realize they will get potentially stronger from a brac ground so i think you are certain to see it growing swell of support for what brac can do for opportunity for those spaces and they have a significant contribution in our security. that's ultimately what it should the about. the country should embrace a process that allows us to put her forces at locations that will provide the most benefit at
the most efficient costs. i have a feeling the congressional resistance senators and congressmen talk to their defense meetings over the next few weeks to figure out whether they are going to vote on brac or there was hoping senators would have been opportunities to talk to their defense leaders and adjutant generals. the national guard those adjutant generals take advantage of the brac process in 2005 and got well really fast to get they were able to close centers that were underperforming in poor demographic areas and moved to emerging demographic areas. they would make themselves much stronger. those folks are listening to their states. i think you are starting to say say -- here folks a brac is the right time. we have been working on military value and we think we have a better way to provide and we are ready for it.
>> very briefly lucian's point about modifying the proposal. really the department is is not optimized to carefully craft ru5 legislative proposals as i think the senator is. i think having a champion do that work removing the legislation that's important. >> one point before we open up questions from the evidence is there a better way to close the facilities other than brac? at the secretary of defense. >> in an ideal world our military leaders are in uniform.
making those decisions with congressional oversight. coming up with some kind of format where you determine if there's significant deviation from military criteria without the need for a brac commission and clearly i think it starts with the secretary of defense. he is the one who is charged with our national security and i think perhaps increased authority if you will. again there's no limitation on the number of military. there are limitations and personnel but you can move combat brigades in you can move air wing city can do all of that people bring currencies to life. it's not emptied buildings and
not chain-link fences. that doesn't serve the community very well. i think the role of the secretary of defense is very important in the decisions to close military bases. >> in my ideal world the law would be less rigid and the department would have more flexibility to move civilian personnel because it's hard to move large numbers of military that affecting civilian folks. they would have more flexibility to optimize infrastructure infrastructure to force structure over time and i think it would be reasonable for congress to say if you're going all the way to closure of a military installation check with us first but i do feel like the statute could be opened up and narrowed effects of ever succeeding years reducing the size of actions they can take
without congressional approval. they could open that backup and you might not need the whole brac ground again for a very long time. obviously it's been a while since the last one. i think you could make it unnecessary to have rack authority over longer periods of time with more flexibility to optimize. >> ideally you want to go back to what our founding fathers intended. you should have the ability to close or open -- i would love to go back to those days and have congress at least advise consent. that's what the current amendment tried to do. we will see to what degree politics played in that process. the thing that's happened last 20 years the secretary of
defense openly does so with involved politics. if i had that opportunity to do it over again i'd like to go back to the discretion of the secretary of defense. we probably don't need the space anymore. one aspect of the mccain reid amendments dealing with the vote as lucian indicated in 2005 it met with disapproval. now if i'm correct it requires a vote of approval and there are more politics in it. any senator can put a hold on the provision of law established in brac. i'm not sure how that would play out. >> not to mention that it is a very empty calendar. but that we can opened up two
questions for the audience. please ask your question in the form of a question that i believe we have a microphone and please identify yourself. if you want to direct a question to anyone -- andrew. >> broke with bloomberg. do you think brac is going to become a sticking point for national defense authorization and the santa thing going for two conference at the senate is successful in passing the mccain amendment? do you think it will be a sticking point? >> i will take a first at it. my quick answer would be no. certainly true that historically it is played their role in the past. former chairman bob stump at one point got up and was ready to bail out on the nda altogether as a result of brac and senator warner got them back to the table and ultimately they reached an agreement today came close to failure.
it's not my sense that chairman thornberry is that opposed to brac that he would walk away from the nda that i could be wrong and i haven't had a personal conversation with either him or the staff director on this point but i don't think the level of resistance is that if you will bob stump threshold of opposition. i wouldn't see this being a -- the way they have structured and of course that was a decision by senator mccain and reid to hold the proposal back and not put in the committee bill and have it on the floor. not to get us derail but there is another controversial provision on "don't ask don't tell" where they have went a different route than they put in the bill in committee and it almost killed the bill because they couldn't get to the floor but structuring of the way they have it will either pass or fail and if bill keller because it has potential support.
the way they have structured this i don't see -- next question. >> thank you. my question is for secretary niemeyer. you mentioned one of the improvements under the current brac was a guaranteed cost control and especially in the 2005 rounds. i'm curious if you could comment on the redeployment as we were discussing whether not that continues with the provisions you are looking for. >> it provides no for all cost limitation. that is a good first step through the not so sure now that i'm on the department side that i want to be capped by that. i was hoping they would trust me as far as keeping the cost down but there is also in the smith version there's also a
requirement by the department to have more detailed estimates beyond that of cobra. there was understanding that cobra as the parametric modeling for doing the necessary assessment would be a useful tool to set aside certain scenarios. at some point you've got to move beyond cobra for an engineering analysis of what the recommendation would cause. the amendment does provide for some of those requirements in the form of plans submitted along with the recommendation. i'm not sure if the state department can implement that. that's something to take a look at but it really was, those are the types of things that are trying to get congress to be able to put some type of controls. congress has very minimal authorization or ability to do anything about the explosive growth of the brac requests and
is something that they are wrestling with. >> thank you. sandra irwin with real clear sense. i wanted to ask secretary niemeyer about this whole idea that you want to optimize readiness and make that a big part of the analysis. can you say who is involved in doing the analysis right now and where does that stand and when do you expect to have some actual recommendations on that? >> we are not doing any analysis on optimize readiness. we are not doing the brac analysis. obviously we are looking every day how best to utilize arranges and we we are also looking at to what degree our current ranges can support generations weapons systems. those discussions are happening every day in the military.
so there is a lot of discussion and the secretary has charged each of us to address the readiness concerns that exist not just an infrastructure but also in training. there's a lot of analysis going on there. how would apply to the brac ground that connection has not been made because we don't have authorization yet. i would be one of the first things we want to do is to look to see how readiness and capabilities are dressed in the national defense strategy and then applied to the military value and start looking at how that changes infrastructure. we are looking at realignments or closures or anything to do with any type of system or base. we are strictly looking at the official actually have now and how do we use what we have now to optimize readiness.
that's a good question. it's definitely on top of my mind. there's a lot of discussion going on right now with the joint chiefs and secretary of defense and i'm not sure exact he went. >> one thing i wanted to throw in the table is the range issue an opportunity potentially to a new brac around to look at the ability to dupe public record partnerships and cut down some of these upfront request by having private to turn this
are there any other questions tonight? >> i have a question about the cost of brat. there has been criticism that the cost is escalated beyond what the estimates for the department word. in the previous brat grounds and they have five brac brown's environment and remediation was not considered one of the cost. there seems to be an indication or an effort certainly in senator mccain's amendment and some of the house language that environmental remediation would be included as a cost. in the past this has had essentially two implications. the environment a cost of just skyrocketed. as secretary principi said it's one of those costs have gone up
and you would never know that until you open up the ground. environmental costs were not included in the previous ground to be considered a governmental responsibility the government has to clean it up whether its bases open or closed so it's not a unique cost to brac and secondly if you include it there's a tremendous bias to only close basis. you put one shipyard on the list like maryland shipyard or hunters point you have blown your five land dollar right there. so should environmental remediation costs be included in the process? >> let me begin from 2005. apart from the military value criteria have the four economic criteria. one of those has to do with environmental remediation but the remediation is not the
features like redevelopment to a residential community is to clean up its current use for military use so you are absolutely right. you are going to close a military base and it's going to be redeveloped. there is live after brac in many places. those costs have to be born if you will buy the community or the developers that are going to come in and redevelop san diego a redeveloped newport or redevelop whatever it might be. >> i take a different perspective. from my understanding the reason the department of past set aside costs you would have to anticipate what the proposed use might the. if you weren't prepared to enter into why are you doing negotiations? i think the department of defense has done a tremendous job over the last 10 years
investigating what they have on their military bases for they think what you look at the proposed legislation is the preliminary analysis and determine what you have and to make some rough order magnitude of what you might have to clean up those costs but i agree it would definitely disadvantage the sites that are clean and the bases that are clean clean. it would deftly advantage the sites that are having a lot of cleanup to do think the department, we still have work to do to incorporate that into the co-panelists is as a final element in assessing the recommendation. >> one last question. sydney thanks. i'm with the "washington examiner." chairman thornberry has talked a bit about the upfront cost which has suggested putting people in
this unguessable vote category. i'm wondering if you see his opposition as a key if not the key hurdle and when you think there's any possibility for some type of a political compromise between chairman thornberry and chairman mccain. >> i think there is room for compromise. i think as lucian indicated the idea of capping the upfront costs are at least scaling it in some way that congress could set a and that the department came back and it's a case $18 billion of upfront costs could be spread out and it would be a lot more useful stuff in the future round today think the idea of sending some kind of inability for congress to have some measure of control over how much they are putting in terms of upfront costs and ongoing costs, i think
that is the basic grounds for compromise on that issue. .. also, the veteran of the national defense authorization conferences, and also the ability for him to give up on one thing in order to get something else. i'm not sure there's ever conference were members of the big form don't come away having had to take on the non- favored
position they didn't politically agree with either because they had to do it for the sake of the builders they need to get a return. >> thank you so much. i appreciate you guys in speaking to us. i think we have sandwiches outside. no, sorry. thank you so much for coming over and please join me in the round of applause. [applause] [inaudible] [inaudible]
[inaudible] tomorrow morning we bring you live coverage of prime ministers questions from the british house of commons. that broadcast is repeated every sunday night at nine eastern on c-span. >> c-span's "washington journal", live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up on wednesday morning, texas democratic congressman discusses hurricane harvey aid in centers for immigration studies talks about the trump administration's decision to overturn be to immigration policy. watch c-span's "washington journal", live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on wednesday morning. join the discussion. >> sunday and q&a, adam, founder
and ceo of open the books and how taxpayers dollars are spent in the need for government transparency. >> we added their checkbook for the last four years in the summer we found that during the time were up to 1000 sick veterans died while waiting to see a dr., that the virginia spent $20 million on a high-end our portfolio. a 27-foot christmas trees costing like cars, sculptures price like five bedroom homes. it was to sculptures for $700,000 procured by virginia center that serves blind veterans. as a sculpture for $1.2 million. this is the type of waste that is in our government.
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