2005 BRAC

The upcoming 2005 Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) commission

plans to trim excess domestic base infrastructure, which is estimated to be
25% too large and costs billions of dollars a year. Four previous base
closure rounds have reportedly saved the U.S. military $6.6 billion
dollars each year. The 2005 round will begin in March 2005 when the
President, in consultation with congressional leaders, appoints a
nine-member base closing commission. Two months later, the defense
secretary will submit his list of facilities to be closed. It will
take seven members to add a facility to that list, but just a simple
majority to remove a facility. The President may approve that list and
send it to Congress, or reject it and send it back to the commission.
Neither Congress nor the President can make changes to the list. If
the President accepts the list, it becomes law unless Congress votes
against it within 45 days. In addition, heighten base security is now
a tremendous financial drain, and older buildings constructed during
the Cold war have decayed and need replacement. Nevertheless, there is
a movement to derail the next round of base closures by convincing
people it is cheaper to keep all bases open and lease land to earn
money; thus expanding what is known as Government Owned Contractor
Operated (GOCO) facilities. This robs local communities of business
property taxes and rarely produces net profits as cozy relationships
result in contracts in which the government still pays for property
The 2005 round will begin in March 2005 when the President, in
consultation with congressional leaders, will appoint the nine-member
base closing commission. Two months later, the defense secretary will
submit his list of facilities to be closed. It will take seven members
to add a facility to that list, but just a simple majority to remove a
facility. The President may approve that list and send it to Congress,
or reject it and send it back to the commission. Neither Congress nor
the President can make changes to the list. If he accepts the list, it
becomes law unless Congress votes against it within 45 days. This
has never happened since Congressmen from districts spared closures
think the list is fair.
Small military bases are inefficient to operate since each base
usually has a housing office, equal opportunity office, public
affairs, chapel, library, auto shop, medical clinic, dental clinic,
commissary, exchange, base headquarters, base security, decal
office, fitness center, reception center, swimming pool, child care
center, enlisted club, officer club, teen club, family support center,
temporary lodging, education center, dining hall, maintenance office,
golf course, theater, post office, and various recreational facilities.
Therefore, shifting "tenant" units to larger bases with room for growth
saves a great deal of money and manpower in the long run, although
moving units requires money for relocation and some new construction.
Reserve, National Guard, and federal civilian activities at closed bases
can continue as they do elsewhere without a military landlord.
Base closures also allow the elimination of outdated organizations
which have been preserved as jobs programs by members of Congress.
The armed services must realize they can eliminate these organizations
by pulling the rug out from them by closing their base. They should
identify these bases now so they can limit closing costs by quietly
implementing a hiring and construction/renovation freeze at targeted
bases a couple years early. Ironically, most communities benefit from
base closures as property tax free and sales tax free military units
are replaced by productive tax-paying private sector companies. G2mil
assembled a list to help the commission make the best choices and
appreciates input. This is not an official list, just informed speculation
gathered from hundreds of sources over the past year.
US Army Base Closure List
The Army has done the worst job at closing excess bases, only closing one
of its 30 largest bases in the four previous rounds-- Fort Ord. It just
trimmed its World War II system of depots and arsenals which have massive
excess capacity. The Army's excuse was that it must maintain room in case
units are brought back from overseas. However, the Army has plenty of
room in the USA for its seven brigades based overseas; and has no intention
of withdrawing them anyway. Meanwhile, the Army wastes billions of dollars a
year to maintain excess bases and civilian employees.
Ideally, the Army will return to its traditional role of defending the
United States
and redeploy combat units to the Mexican border, a mission it abandoned
World War II. An infantry division can guard remote areas and detain anyone
seen crossing the border illegally. By shifting a few units during the
2005 round,
the Army can easily accommodate a brigade at Fort Bliss, one at Fort
and a third at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona.
This list may seem long, but it includes no major bases, no training
areas, and
will affect none of the Army's combat brigades. It closes a third of the
depots and a few small "ivory tower" posts. This will eliminate enough
and civilian positions to man two more combat divisions, and save enough
money to train and equip them.
Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania - A small base with just the Army War
College. It will be far less costly if the War College moves to Fort
Levenworth and shares facilities and staff with the Army's Command and
Staff College, similar to the arrangement of other service war
colleges. It could also move to the DC area and share resources with
one of the DoD colleges. The Carlisle campus can immediately become a
community or state college.
Detroit Arsenal, Michigan - This tank factory was shut down in 1999,
yet the base remains with a huge staff of 128 military and 3479
civilians personnel in Detroit just to support the headquarters of the
Army's Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command. This command can join
its proponents at Fort Knox or to Anniston Army Depot were much of the
work is actually done.
Fort Belvoir, Virginia - Critics often note there are over 100,000
servicemen in the Washington DC area, and not a single combat unit.
Housing costs are high and traffic gridlock common. This is not place
for an army base, which is why Belvoir has been downsized, with
one-third of the base now a nature preserve. The three small commands
here may relocate to any Army base. Most of the federal activities
will continue in place, except the land will revert to Fairfax County
as the Army sheds the burden of running a base and shuts down support
activities. Some Army activities may remain as part of the Army's
Military District of Washington.
Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico - This small base with over 2000 civilian
employees has little military function whatsoever and can be turned
over to the National Guard. The naval base and airfield at nearby
Roosevelt Roads can support any military activity on the island.
Fort McPherson/Gillem, Georgia - McPherson is an old, tiny base in
Atlanta which is mostly a golf course with three headquarter units.
The Forces Command can co-locate with the new Northern Command in
Colorado, the Joint Forces command in Norfolk, or Army headquarters in
Washington DC. The 3rd Army Headquarters is unneeded; it can downsize
to fewer than a dozen soldiers and merge into the Central Command
headquarters in Florida. (During the 1991 Persian Gulf, General
Schwartzkopf determined it was much easier for CentCom to control
Corps directly.) The Reserve Forces command can move anywhere. The
sub-post called Fort Gillem can be turned over to the National Guard
while reserve units, MEPS, and the AAFES distribution center remain
Fort Monmouth, New Jersey - This base has 552 active duty troops and
5198 civilians just to host the Army's Communications and Electronics
command. This headquarters can relocate with just a few hundred people
to Fort Huachuca where related testing is performed, or Tobyhanna
Depot where related equipment is repaired. Fortunately, private sector
businesses are eager to develop the prime real estate at Monmouth.
Fort Monroe, Virginia - This is a small, historic base which is costly
to maintain, but could become a luxury resort or a National or State
Park. TRADOC can move to any other fort in Virginia, or Fort
Levenworth where it can rejoin with the Forces Command. The ROTC
command can move anywhere while the Joint Warfare Center can be
deactivated with no loss.
Fort Polk, Louisiana (to realign) - The Army desperately needs a major
urban warfare training center, and the north half of this base is
ideally suited. North Fort Polk should be shut down and become a huge
urban training area for the Joint Readiness Training Center. This will
allow brigade size units to arrive by sea or at Polk's large airfield
to conduct lengthy urban warfare exercises in a real city ten times
larger than the quaint artificial villages used today. This may
require some tenant units to move to other Army bases. Perhaps the 2nd
Armored Cavalry Regiment can move elsewhere and a permanent urban
ORFOR unit established.
Fort Richardson, Alaska - The Army does not need three bases in Alaska
for a single brigade, especially since housing and operational costs
are the highest in the USA. This small base does little except support
the Alaskan National Guard, so turn it over to the state of Alaska and
move the NCO academy and airborne battalion up to Fort Wainwright or
elsewhere. Adjacent Elmendorf AFB may annex some buildings and family
Fort Sam Houston, Texas - This is a old base in an old run down part
of San Antonio with no training areas. The new Brooke Army Medical
Center located on the edge of the base may be transferred to the Air
Force or VA. Basic medical training can be performed at any Army base.
Reserve units can move to Camp Bullis 15 miles away where they already
Fort Shafter, Hawaii - The "US Army Pacific" doesn't need its own base
with 1400 soldiers and 2000 civilians in expensive Hawaii. It should
be eliminated or cut down to a dozen soldiers and based within the
Pacific Command headquarters at Camp Smith. I Corps in Washington
state can "command" the few army units in the Pacific.
Lima Army Tank Plant, Michigan - This is run by General Dynamics which
does similar work at its Sterling Heights Complex in Michigan. Tank
work is declining and there is no reason for the Army to own a plant
used by private industry. Sell the plant to General Dynamics if they
want it, or close it if they prefer to do work elsewhere. The Anniston
Army Depot can also do future tank upgrades.
Natick Soldier Center, Massachusetts - This small facility is located
in an expensive Boston suburb which is tasked with developing personal
equipment for soldiers. Better work can be done at a major base where
soldiers can help test gear and provide direct input; Fort Benning is
Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey - Very little is done there nowadays.
Anniston, Aberdeen, Watervliet, and Red River have plenty of excess
capacity to fill whatever need might arise. One Colonel who worked
there stated they could turn out the lights and send everyone home
tomorrow and the Army wouldn't notice. This will allow the base to
retain its appropriate mission as a Moth Sanctuary.
Redstone Arsenal, Alabama - This is left over from when the Army was
involved in the large missile business. The Army turned over that
business to NASA, which runs the Marshall Space Center there. The
Army's Aviation and Missile command remained as private contractors
took over research and development. This command should move to Fort
Bliss or White Sands where development and testing actually occurs, or
to Letterkenny Depot where missiles are repaired. The Army's Material
Command can move to another arsenal or depot while the missile
ordnance school can move anywhere.
Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois - Very little is done here nowadays.
Anniston, Watervliet, Aberdeen, and Red River have plenty of excess
capacity to fill whatever need might arise. Most non-Army activities
aboard this Arsenal will remain.
Sierra Army Depot, California - This was mostly shut down since the
1995 BRAC declared it excess and environmental clean up began.
However, the Army retained it to help burn off surplus munitions from
the Cold War. Since this produces toxic fumes, nearby citizens are
furious and want it closed for good. The depot's burn mission should
be complete by 2005 and Tooele Depot in Utah can burn what's left.
Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona - Aberdeen does the most "proving" for
the Army, while Dugway has newer facilities and a huge test area with
special equipment to test chemical and bio weapons. The little work
done at Yuma can be easily done at Dugway, Fort Irwin, White Sands, or
elsewhere, as was demonstrated with the recent Stryker program. The
test ranges may be preserved as part of nearby MCAS Yuma or
transferred to the Arizona National Guard, but an active Army base is
not needed unless the Army puts troops there to help defend the
US Navy Base Closure List
The US Navy has done the best job in closing excess base capacity. It
has shut down two major base complexes: San Francisco Bay and
Charleston. However, the fleet has shrunk since the 1995 base closing
round, so a few medium size bases and several small bases can be
closed to save a couple billion dollars a year in overhead. Current
Navy plans are to shrink further, from 313 ships in FY2002 down to 291
ships in FY2004.
Ingleside Naval Station, Texas - This is an underdeveloped base where
the Navy banished its unwanted mine warfare ships. However, the Navy
now acknowledges that it is very difficult for combat ships on each
coast to train with mine warfare ships based in South Texas. Realizing
these small, slow ships cannot rapidly deploy, the Navy has moved
several overseas. In addition, the only large ship at Ingleside, the
helicopter carrier USS Inchon, was recently decommissioned and nothing
will take her place. The Navy should move the remaining ships to a
major base on each coast to join the rest of the fleet.
Monterey Naval Postgraduate School, California - This is a major hotel
complex in scenic Monterey which the Navy acquired during World War II
and never left. It is far from Navy bases and exists solely to operate
a military post-graduate school. This can be done at any major base
with none of the overhead costs of operating an entire base. However,
an article appeared Naval Proceedings in 2000 which questioned why the
Navy runs its own post-graduate school when it's much cheaper to send
students to the finest graduate schools in the United States, which
offer the same courses and would provide officers healthy contact with
outside institutions.
Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi - Over the past few years, the
Navy and Marine Corps have reduced the size of squadrons and will soon
eliminate several because skyrocketing aircraft prices do not allow
all older aircraft to be replaced. As a result, they will need to
train fewer new aviators each year. NAS Meridian is a small aviator
training base that was on the 1995 closure list because its bad
weather limits safe flying days. Unfortunately, Admiral Borda
succumbed to political pressure from Mississippi congressmen and told
the commission it was mistakenly put on the list. These training
squadrons can move to the other three naval aviator training bases, or
perhaps the joint/reserve NAS Fort Worth in arid Texas.
Naval Aircraft Engineering Station Lakehurst, New Jersey - This is an
old base left over from the era when the Navy developed most of its
aircraft "in house". The Navy wanted to close this base in 1995, but a
close commission vote kept it open. Its difficult to determine
anything of value of done there today. Any important activity can move
to the larger naval aviation development base at Patuxent River,
Maryland or the testing center in China Lake, California. Lakehurst is
adjacent to Fort Dix and McGuire AFB so the problem of local retiree
support and civilian job transfers are nonexistent.
Naval Recreation Station Solomons Island, Maryland - This is an old
unused base which evolved into a hidden navy resort. There are
thousands of choices for private sector recreation in the Washington
DC area, the Navy shouldn't spend millions of dollars each year to run
an exclusive resort at taxpayer expense. Money is better spent
improving recreational facilities at fleet bases where regular sailors
can use them daily.
Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, Indiana - This is left over from
World War II when the Navy and Marines once developed their own
weapons. This is now done in the private sector or at operating bases.
Whatever relevant work can be found is best done near naval forces and
not in a remote spot a thousand miles from any ship.
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Virginia - NAVSEA is
an amazing large organization with 37 R&D facilities in the USA. It
employs an army of engineers and scientists, yet awards huge contracts
to private corporations to design future ships and aircraft. In
addition, the Naval Research Laboratory has several facilities spread
around the country. Since the Navy now prefers to outsource its R&D,
there is no need to retain this massive in-house capability. Dahlgren
is tucked away in the middle of Virginia and far from any ship. Its
traditional mission of munitions testing is very limited due to the
rapid growth of nearby communities, so most all weapons testing is
done at China Lake. Important activities and tenants can be merged
into bases elsewhere, or just eliminated.
The Navy has over a dozen "research" facilities in the Washington DC
area and around Virginia which should be consolidated. In the
September 2002 Naval Proceedings, Rear Admiral Rowland G. Freeman III
(ret) noted: "focus got lost as the laboratories strove to become more
like academic campuses [where] ferocious competition for dollars
between the laboratories downgraded the technical and scientific
effort." If the Navy fails to recommend some smaller "lab" closures in
this region, Dahlgren should be axed to force change and save money.
Navy Supply Corps School, Georgia - a small base in Athens, which is
in an odd location for the Navy. It can be moved to any base to save
money and manpower.
New Orleans Naval Support Activity, Louisiana - During the 1960s, the
Navy and Marines banished their reserve commands to decaying buildings
at an old Army base in downtown New Orleans. These commands will be
more effective and less costly at major bases where they can support
reservists directly and interact with active forces.
Pascagoula Naval Station, Mississippi - This tiny base has just three
old cruisers, two old frigates, and few base facilities. It is
isolated from the fleet and its ships must steam for several days to
participate in exercises off the Atlantic coast. The Navy can easily
accommodate these ships at larger east coast bases, but they will be
decommissioned within a few years anyway.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, New Hampshire - The Navy has far more
shipyard capacity than it needs. Portsmouth was to be included in the
1995 base closure list, but President Clinton was said to have exerted
inappropriate pressure on the commission to spare it since the
important New Hampshire presidential primary race was underway.
Portsmouth only works on attack submarines, work which can be done by
several underutilized public and private sector shipyards.
Saratoga Springs Naval Support Unit, New York (includes Ballston Spa,
Scotia) - This small, inland base was overlooked in previous base
closure rounds. Nuclear power training can be consolidated in
Charleston since the number of nuclear powered subs has been cut,
while the regional recruiting office can move to any Navy base along
the New England coast.
US Marine Corps Base Closure List
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia - This Korean war era base
is far from any major air or seaport, and far from any Marine units.
As a result, the Corps built a seaport logistics facility at Blount
Island near Jacksonville, Florida in the 1980s. Albany should close
with its activities moved to Blount Island, Camp Lejeune, and Quantico
to save money and provide superior support. The manpower and money
saved should allow the Corps to open a spare parts facility at a US
Navy base in Italy and another in Bahrain to greatly improve support
in those regions, and replace its two ageing aviation maintenance
support ships in Baltimore.
Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California (realign) - This World
War II base is far from any major air or seaport, and far from any
Marine units. It is actually three bases, the Yerma maintenance and
storage area, the main base eight miles away at Nebo, and a
rifle/pistol range complex. Logistical activities can provide superior
support at Camp Pendleton or 29 Palms, or if forward-based in Guam.
However, the desert air is ideal for storage of excess equipment.
Therefore, the base may "realign" becoming the Yerma Annex of Marine
Corps Base 29 Palms with a dozen Marines supported by a hundred
civilians. This annex will be for storage, although some maintenance
work may still be done.
The Nebo complex and rifle range area can transfer to the US Army.
Fort Irwin is nearby and needs the family housing and some buildings.
It is also an ideal location for a heavy Army Reserve or National
Guard armor unit. The rest of Nebo can become an urban warfare
training center which Fort Irwin needs as a modern National Training
Center, which it can share with the Marines.
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California - Budget problems caused
by high-priced aircraft will force the Corps to eliminate over a dozen
flying squadrons during the next decade. While Miramar is a beautiful
base, it is surrounded by a booming urban area whose vocal residents
complain about noise, which is why the Navy happily left in 1999. It
has the highest off-base housing costs of any air station, and
training is limited by congested civilian air traffic and quiet time
for the locals. Moreover, San Diego desperately needs a new airport
and Miramar is the only practical location. Dispersing Miramar
aircraft to other Marine Corps and Navy Air Stations will save the
Corps millions of dollars each year. If such a move is considered too
costly, the Corps can "sell" Miramar to the city to fund new
facilities elsewhere.
Since ten Marine F/A-18 squadrons are now permanently assigned to Navy
carrier wings, the Navy has plenty of room at NAS Leemore in central
California to host Marine F/A-18 squadrons. F/A-18 squadrons can also
return to MCAS Kanehoe Bay, and two must move to MCAS Iwakuni in Japan
if the Corps wishes to maintain three squadrons there since the new
carrier commitments make squadron rotations impractical. The two
helicopter training squadrons can move the MCAS New River, while
others will be disbanded as helicopter shortages caused by the V-22
program require several deactivations. Remaining squadrons can be
squeezed into MCAS Camp Pendleton, MCAS Kanehoe Bay, MCAS Yuma, or NAS
El Centro. Other options are Edwards AFB where two Marine reserve
helicopter squadrons are based, or build hangers and landing pads at
29 Palms and move a few squadrons there.
Marine Corps Mountain Warfare School, California - this tiny base in
the midst of a huge national forest was founded during the Korean war
to prepare Marines for mountain warfare. It was mothballed during the
Vietnam war as the Corps determined it was no longer needed. For
unknown reasons, the base was later reoccupied even though the Corps
hasn't been involved in mountain warfare since Korea.
This school absorbs funds and manpower needed for new urban warfare
facilities elsewhere. Marines can attend US Army or foreign
mountain/winter warfare schools on occasion, but such training should
be a low priority. Marines are a rapid reaction force, which always
involves urban areas. The rare mission of chasing guerrillas or
terrorists in mountains should be left to specialized Army units. The
base should be mothballed and returned to the US Forest Service again,
or possibly transferred to the California National Guard for urban
warfare and mountain training for all armed services.
Marine Reserve Support Unit, Kansas City - This is a tiny base with
200 Marines which somehow ended up in Kansas City. It should move to
any Marine base, probably co-located with Marine Forces Reserves,
which will also move from New Orleans. (see Navy list)
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California (realign or close) -
This small, concrete base is the worst place to train new recruits.
about gawking at recruits and taking photos. Training facilities are
so limited that recruits must move 40 miles north to Camp Pendleton
for their final three weeks.
There are three options: 1) move MCRD up to Camp Pendleton; 2) move
MCRD to Nebo at Barstow (see Barstow above); 3) expand MRCD Parris
Island, which already has the capacity to double its load, although
facilities would need to be modernized. The US Air Force trains more
airmen recruits each year at one base in Texas, and the Navy trains
twice as many at a single location. A major war would quickly empty
most of Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejuene, providing ample facilities
for another MCRD to support a major war.
The city of San Diego wants this base to expand its airport. However,
if the Marine Corps closes MCAS Miramar instead, it may keep "Marine
Base San Diego" because of its ideal location near the Navy. It could
accommodate the Reserve Support Unit from Kansas City, reserve
headquarters from New Orleans, a small Marine Corps Logistics Facility
(from Barstow), or any Navy or Marine unit which needs space in the
San Diego region. Another option would be a small Marine Corps Air
Facility which uses the runway at adjacent civilian Lindbergh field.
This could accommodate the VIP aircraft from Miramar and maybe a
reserve F/A-18 squadron.
US Air Force Base Closure List
The Air Force conducted a 1998 study which concluded it could cut its
overhead costs in half by consolidating into 20 megabases. The average
Air Force base is less than half the size of a typical Army, Navy or
Marine Corps base (based on active duty population). As a result,
these small bases become dysfunctional whenever their operational wing
deploys overseas because it takes many airmen which the base itself
needs, like security personnel.
In addition, the Air Force must eliminate half its fighter and attack
squadrons in the coming years to afford ultra-expensive F/A-22s and
F-35s. The number of B-1B bombers was recently cut by one-third, and
the number of aerial tankers will be cut as some old KC-135s are
replaced by larger tankers based on the Boeing 767. Finally, fewer
aircraft require fewer pilots, so fewer pilot training bases are
needed. As a result, the Air Force will have twice as much base
capacity than it needs. Some of this problem is easily solved by
closing outdated bases overseas, but dozens of smaller domestic bases
must also be closed. In addition, consolidating Air National Guard
squarons into nearby bases of any service can yield tremendous savings
and improve security.
The Clinton administration attempted to minimize base closures in
1995, due to that President's view that our military is a jobs
program. Fortunately, the 1995 commission closed two of the Air
Force's five huge air logistics bases despite objections from the
Clinton administration and powerful Senators. Most all of the bases on
this list are recommended for closure simply because they are the
smallest Air Force bases in the country. In addition, the Air Force
will move a bomber squadron and at least one tanker squadron to Guam.
It may also move some flying squadrons to the three large Air
Logistics Centers.
This looks like a big list, but includes no major air force
installations and doesn't cut even half of what is needed for the 20
mega-base concept. In fact, the number of airmen at all bases on this
list is fewer than the number of soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas. Keep in
mind that moving Air Force wings may be unnecessary as the Air Force
will deactivate several wings in the coming years.
Altus AFB, Oklahoma - A small base whose transport training wing can
move to a larger base, possibly Tinker.
Beale AFB, California - A small base whose U-2 reconnaissance squadron
can move to a larger base, probably Robbins, and reserve squadron can
move to Travis or March. The old missile warning radar site may be
mothballed, manned by civilians, or replaced by newer radars elsewhere
under construction for National Missile Defense.
Brooks AFB, Texas - A tiny non-flying research base in an old area of
San Antonio which is virtually shut down. The Air Force wanted to
close it in 1995, but it was spared because the commission chose to
close the large Kelly Air Logistics Center nearby.
Cannon AFB, New Mexico - A small base whose fighter wing can move to a
larger base, or may be deactivated.
Columbus AFB, Mississippi - A tiny base whose training wing can move
to a larger base with better flying weather.
Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota - A small base whose bomber wing can move
to another base. Since the Air Force has just cut one-third of its
B-1Bs, it may be best to deactivate that wing.
Goodfellow AFB, Texas - A tiny and remote non-flying base used for
skills training which can move to a larger base.
Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota - A small base whose refueling wing can
move to a larger base. Tankers from this base require two or more
hours of flight time to support operations along the coast or overseas
Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts - A small research base with no aircraft.
The Air Force may continue to fund research with MIT, but there is no
need to keep 2000 airmen running a "base". Any pure Air Force work can
be moved to other underutilized Air Force Research labs.
Kirkland AFB, New Mexico - (to realign or close) Special Operations
activities will move to Hurlburt Field, Florida or perhaps Moody AFB.
The base will gain other activities or close.
Los Angeles AFB, California - A small base whose only tenant is the
Space and Missile Systems Center. However, there are no space
facilities or missiles nearby because its located in a crowded and
expensive section of Los Angeles county, which is why it has been
considered for closing in past rounds. This command should move to a
real "space" base like Vandenberg or over to March, leaving behind the
contracting squadron and the closing Fort MacArthur base support area
18 miles to the south.
McConnell AFB, Kansas - A small base whose refueling wing can move to
a larger base. Tankers from this base require two or more hours of
flight time to support operations along the coast or overseas
Nellis AFB, Nevada - (to realign) This is a key medium-size base whose
tenant units are better off elsewhere. The rapid growth of Las Vegas
has enveloped the airfield causing community conflicts due to noise
and demands for connecting roads through Nellis. Security is poor
since the airfield is close to a major road with dozens of aircraft
parked outdoors during exercises, while thousands of tourists visit
the "Thunderbirds". In addition, the federal government has restricted
growth in Las Vegas because air pollution becomes trapped in that
valley, while Air Force jets at Nellis spew out tons of pollutants.
Nellis is also an ideal location for a much needed civilian airport.
More details are in this article: Moving Base Has Advantages.
These problems will only worsen, so the main base (Area I) should
close. Separate Area II (munitions storage) and Area III (hospital,
family housing and support) can remain open. The Development Wing and
Weapons school can move to Edwards AFB, California. The Thunderbirds
and 66th Rescue squadron can move anywhere. The Air Warfare Center
"Red Flag" can move 40 miles northwest to the small Indian Springs
AFB, which can expand and renamed Nellis AFB (Area I). Another option
is build a new airstrip with hangers and a Red Flag building in a
secure, isolated area 10 miles to the north with a direct 8 mile road
to Area II. Parts of Area I could remain open (like the commissary,
golf course, and clubs) while the city runs an airport for small
aircraft to relieve congestion at McCarran.
Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina - (to realign) The F-15 fighter
wing can move, probably to Eglin, while an active KC-135 tanker wing
in the Mid-West.
Shaw AFB, South Carolina - This is a medium-size base, but the Air
Force will cut its fighter squadrons in half and something must be
shut down. This base may be preserved if a fighter wing based overseas
Vance AFB, Oklahoma - A tiny base whose training wing can move to
another base.
Ideal Base Size
Many readers have asked about the ideal base size. The best
measurement is the total number active duty and civilian employees,
which range from 1000 up to 50,000 at megabases. Modern military bases
are expected to provide so many base services that small bases are
extremely inefficient. On the other hand, megabases present nice
nuclear targets and tend to dominate local economies. The federal
government pays no local property taxes, exempts servicemen, their
family members, and retirees from paying on-base sales tax, and
usually expects local schools to pay for the education of military
children (even those living on-base) and only reimburses part of cost.
This is why so many run down communities have prospered after their
bases shut down.
As a result, megabases impose intolerable burdens on local communities
which result in lousy schools and a run down infrastructure. Megabases
are also impersonal for young families who need a second car just to
get around the base. Therefore, the best base size is from
10,000-20,000 personnel, and the 2005 BRAC should shift some
activities from megabases to medium-size bases with excess space.
Local housing costs must also be considered. For example, a married
soldier in Alaska must be paid ~$15,000 more a year than one in Kansas
to live off-base. Once again, this is not an official list, just bases
likely to be closed. This list is continually modified with reader
input so comments are welcome.
Tony Brescia
Director of S&T Resources and Program Development
2000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-2000
voice: (703) 601-1789
fax: (703) 601-2050
email: anthony.brescia@navy.mil