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Sat Feb 22, 2014, 08:44 AM

Rep. Smith Warns Congress: Close Bases Or DoD May Do It Without Us


Rep. Smith Warns Congress: Close Bases Or DoD May Do It Without Us
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. and Colin Clark
on February 20, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Yesterday, Hill staffer Vickie Plunkett made some mid-sized waves at the Association of the US Army’s winter conference when she noted that the military can legally close bases and arsenals without seeking congressional approval — and publicly urged the Army to “take your chances” and try it. This afternoon, we got this remarkably supportive reaction from the office of Rep. Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, which Plunkett happens to work for:

“Mr. Smith thinks that given the changing size and shape of our military force, the Department of Defense needs to be able to adjust its infrastructure to accommodate and reflect the shape of the force. It is his hope that Congress acts and these changes are made through the normal BRAC [Base Realignment And Closure] process. If Congress doesn’t act, then the strain on the Department will grow and it may be necessary for the Department to explore the possibility of realigning its bases under existing authorities.”


Certainly, the Washington Democrat had made the unpopular case for BRAC before. Given how deep the 10-year schedule of budget cuts known as sequestration is biting into everything else, “how do you shrink the force by the amount we’re talking about and not do a BRAC?” he asked reporters earlier this month at a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast. At that event, Smith was withering in his critique of Republicans’ refusal to raise taxes, Democrats’ refusal to trim entitlements, and everyone’s refusal to cut constituent-pleasing spending on such things as military retirement benefits and bases.

But calling on Congress to close bases is one thing. Warning Congress that, if they don’t act, the Pentagon can close bases without them — that’s a step beyond.

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Reply Rep. Smith Warns Congress: Close Bases Or DoD May Do It Without Us (Original post)
unhappycamper Feb 2014 OP
MADem Feb 2014 #1

Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Sat Feb 22, 2014, 12:25 PM

1. I am not at all shy about calling out the Five Sided Funny Farm for Fraud, Waste and Abuse.

And heaven knows, they've got plenty to answer for on that score. That said, they aren't the only jerks at the dance, here--Congress is FAMOUS for pork barrelling like crazy--if it is in a powerful congressman's district, then it's "good" for the military, even if the military doesn't want or need it (see Trent Lott forcing stupid ships down the Navy's throat as an example--and those aren't cheap, either).

I think the Services pulling this "stunt" is a great wake-up call. All they really need to do is just pull out most of their personnel assets, hire some Barney Fifes to guard the gates, and mothball stuff--those congressmen will quickly figure out that the effect on their local economies will be worse if an installation just sits there and rots, with no people to contribute to the local economy, rather than bite the bullet and convert the installation to commercial purposes.

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