DOD Looks to Congress for Direction on Eliminating Unneeded Capacity

DOD Looks to Congress for Direction on Eliminating Unneeded Capacity

By Dan Cohen 

During a hearing Thursday of the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, DOD’s installations chief acknowledged the department’s recent failure to secure lawmakers’ support for a new round of base closures and reached out to find common ground on an approach that would allow the military to rightsize its infrastructure.

“We realize we have asked for six years and for six years, Congress has said no. We can’t keep doing that. We have to work with you on a common way forward that will allow us to make prudent reductions in our infrastructure,” Lucian Niemeyer, assistant secretary for energy, installations and environment, told the panel during his opening remarks.

While emphasizing the need to ensure “our basing infrastructure is ideally sized to increase the lethality of our forces,” Niemeyer said officials are undertaking a comprehensive review of how and where they base new forces and capabilities — including hypersonic systems, autonomous vehicles and cyber forces — called for in the National Defense Strategy. “All of these concepts which are called for, and this country desperately needs, need to have a basing infrastructure that will allow us to deploy and train them effectively,” he said.

In the absence of requesting a BRAC round this year, the department is looking at ways to use it facilities more efficiently. Officials, for example, are assessing whether an optimal number of personnel are assigned to each building as part of their effort to determine how much excess infrastructure DOD is carrying.

“Our efforts will allow us to work with Congress further on fair, objective and transparent options for future base realignments and closures,” Niemeyer said.

Beyond several comments and questions from Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), BRAC was not an overarching topic during the rest of the hearing. A webcast can be found on the committee website.