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16 May 2005

Rumsfeld: Base-Closing Concept Incorporates Strategic Thinking

Myers says BRAC accounts for post-9/11 security environment

By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Affairs Writer

Washington – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the Pentagon’s recommendations to close a wide variety of domestic military facilities takes into account data prepared for the last Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) as well as that for a new review that is currently under way.

Rumsfeld made this point May 16 during testimony before the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), which held its first hearing since the Pentagon submitted its recommendations on May 13.

One commissioner said it was “good to hear” that the BRAC recommendations factor in work on the QDR, plans related to the Global Posture Review, and plans to change the U.S. presence overseas over time.  The QDR is a congressionally mandated comprehensive assessment, prepared every four years, of U.S. security needs based on perceived worldwide threats.

Some members of the commission expressed concern that the recommendations that they are reviewing do not appear to account for plans announced by the Pentagon in 2004 to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Europe and East Asia.

While the adjustment in the U.S. presence overseas calls for redeploying some 70,000 U.S. troops and 100,000 family members, Rumsfeld said it will not happen swiftly.  The redeployment “will play out over a sustained period of time,” he said, because the process involves carefully considered trade-offs as well as negotiations with allies.

The United States is trying to carry out this process in a manner that is respectful of the countries involved, the secretary said, while providing the U.S. military with the greatest level of flexibility.  “The timing depends on the negotiations with those countries, the costs and how we phase it in,” Rumsfeld told the commissioners.

The domestic base closing recommendations were published in close proximity to the publication of a report by the congressionally created Overseas Basing Commission (OBC).  Some of its commissioners have expressed concern that the Pentagon’s redeployment plans may occur so quickly that the U.S. military’s ability to respond to crises may be hampered.  Plans to redeploy some U.S. forces from Germany have been identified as a particular commission concern.

Rumsfeld characterized some of the OBC actions as “unhelpful,” particularly posting material (since removed) on the Internet that may have been classified.  Some of the posted information, he said, has caused concern for nations with which the United States is currently negotiating.  He also questioned some of the factual information in the OBC’s report issued May 9.

Air Force General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified with Rumsfeld before the BRAC Commission; he said the new domestic base closing recommendations take into consideration the post 9-11 security environment.

Myers also addressed the issue of adjusting the U.S. military “footprint” overseas.  He said the plan to adjust the U.S. overseas posture has been prepared as a broad U.S. government effort, with input from the State Department and other departments and agencies as well as from military commanders assigned to all the geographic regions around the world.

Unless U.S. force adjustments are implemented, Myers said, the U.S. global defense posture will “be stuck in the Cold War [era].”

Myers’ remarks followed a previous statement issued by the commander of U.S. European Command, Marine General James Jones, on May 10.  Jones said the center of U.S. attention “has shifted from the defense of Western Europe from attack towards a variety of new threats from non-state actors and organizations from the eastern and southern regions of our theater.”

At this time it is necessary to adjust the United States' 20th century defense posture, Jones said, “which is too linear and geographically constrained, in order to meet the new challenges we collectively face.”

The OBC report and information about its hearings may viewed on the Web at http://www.obc.gov.

The transcript of a special Defense Department briefing about the OBC’s report is available at http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050509-2701.html.

The Defense Department’s Web site providing details about BRAC is available at http://www.defenselink.mil/brac/.