April 8, 2016
On Thursday, defense officials urged Congress to consider another round of base realignment and closures (BRAC).
Officials testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs on military facility and installation funding shortfalls.
Across the board, defense and services leaders voiced concerns over reduced funding and the challenges of keeping up with current environmental requirements.
The proposed $1 billion FY 2017 military construction budget is an 18-percent reduction from last year's budget. The Army's budget is at its lowest since 1993.
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and the Environment, spoke frankly of the struggles in funding readiness with a reduced budget, stating, “The Army has decided to take strategic risks to fund installations so it can support soldier readiness.”
She said the Army has an excess of about 21 percent in infrastructure, which is expected to increase further with the force drawdown. With another round of BRAC, the Army believes it could save over $5 million annually to reinvest in training and troops.
The FY 2017 Navy's budget of almost $12 billion is a 10-percent reduction from last year's funding levels. The Navy warned of significant consequences and degradation of future military operations if funding continued at these levels.
The Air Force's FY 2017 $8 billion budget is down 4-percent. The Air Force has placed military construction as a top priority, and 40 percent of the budget will go to chip away at a significant backlog for existing mission infrastructure.
“The bottom line for the Air Force, installations are too big, too old and too expensive to operate,” said Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations Environment and Energy Miranda A.A. Ballentine. “Twenty-four years of continuous combat and a fiscal environment constrained by the Budget Control Act have truly taken a toll on the service.”
The Air Force also urged another BRAC to address the 30-percent excess infrastructure capacity. Since the first Gulf War the service has reduced the number of combat-coded squadrons by nearly 60 percent. Meanwhile, stateside bases were only reduced by 15-percent during this period.
MOAA believes lifting sequestration directed by the Budget Control Act is the only way to fix current budget shortfalls. Further erosion of installation facilities not only hurts readiness, but ultimately degrades military and family morale and readiness.
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