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Senators Call for Process to Implement DOD Force Reductions and Restructuring

Washington, D.C. – In an effort to bring transparency and objectivity to the process of implementing force structure reductions and restructuring by the Department of Defense (DOD), a bi-partisan group of senators is asking that a legislative provision outlining such steps be added to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.

Led by Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), the senators have sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) saying the DOD needs to evaluate and report on the impact of force structure reductions and restructuring on global force posture prior to initiation of such actions. The senators say such steps would safeguard national security while ensuring the cost effectiveness and feasibility of proposed force structure adjustments.

“Our interest in addressing this process was generated by the Air Force proposal for force reductions and restructuring which affect over 60 installations in Fiscal Year 2013,” the senators write to SASC Chairman Carl Levin and Ranking Member John McCain. “We have not been provided clear and objective metrics by which the reductions and restructuring proposed at specific installations have been selected.”

The letter is also signed by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Bob Casey (R-PA), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. Roger Wicker (R- MI), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). It includes a policy with several steps outlined by the senators to address procedural shortfalls evident this year by the number of restructuring proposals the Air Force has submitted without thorough analysis.

“We know in Alaska that the proposal to move the F-16 squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson does not come with a thorough analysis of estimated cost savings, operational effectiveness, and impacts to the other branches of the military operations and training,” Begich said. “To make these types of decisions in a vacuum without thorough analysis and review is a poor way of doing business and just unacceptable. We have to make this process better to make sure these decisions truly are affordable and result in an effective military instead of being used to close bases without a formal BRAC authorization from Congress.”

“As members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, we work constantly to strike a balance between strategic requirements and fiscal realities. Our country literally cannot afford to make hasty decisions about major changes without taking the full cost and national security impact of those changes into consideration,” Udall said.  “When reductions to force structure are required, we must make certain careful analysis has been conducted by the Defense Department—and evaluated by Congress—prior to taking action.”

The senators write in the letter that they recognize the need for a smaller and leaner military force, but as the Senate moves forward on passage of NDAA, restructuring decisions must have proper congressional oversight and achieve stated objectives for cost savings and strategic enhancement.

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