WARNER ROBINS -- As expected, President Barack Obamas fiscal 2014 budget request calls for a new Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2015.
Whether one will actually happen is left to be seen. The president previously called for a BRAC in 2013 and 2015, but that was shot down amid opposition from both parties in Congress.
The likelihood might be higher this time around, however, as sharp cuts in military spending in the past two years have led to operational cutbacks and, therefore, an even greater excess of infrastructure.
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, president of the 21st Century Partnership, has been saying for months that a new BRAC was likely in 2015 or 2017, or both. The partnership is a community organization that works to protect the base in the event of a BRAC.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the BRAC request in a news conference Wednesday.
This process is an imperfect process, and there are upfront costs for BRAC, he said, according to a transcript of the news conference. This budget adds $2.4 billion over the next five years to pay for those costs. But in the long term, there are significant savings, as weve seen from past BRAC decisions.
McMahon has said previously that the Department of Defense has excess infrastructure of 20 to 25 percent.
The announcement comes as no surprise, but the determination process for a future BRAC is far from over, McMahon said in an emailed statement.
We understand the fiscal challenges faced by the department, and BRAC is the obvious solution to reducing excess infrastructure. We are being prudent in our preparations and will continue to drive our efforts towards securing Robins Air Force Base -- the economic engine of Middle Georgia -- BRAC or no BRAC.
The partnership basically has been operating under the assumption there will be a BRAC in 2015. It has spent $175,000 this year to conduct 15 studies that will show how Middle Georgia stacks up against other communities that support military industrial bases. The first four of those studies are expected to be released soon.
The last BRAC was in 2005 and was focused on cutting costs. McMahon has said he expects the next BRAC to be more like the 1995 BRAC, focused on reducing infrastructure. That year, the Air Force closed two of its five maintenance depots.
Robins is one of the three remaining depots, and one of those, Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, may hold a BRAC immunity card because it is the headquarters of all three.
If the Air Force decided to reduce depot capacity, it could come down to a contest between Robins and Hill Air Force Base in Utah.