Bi-partisan effort by Tester and Hutchison to go after overseas bases‏

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Timetable

·         11/22/03 –  The FY04 Military Construction Act is signed into law, including a section that calls for the creation of an Overseas Basing Commission to address US military basing overseas.

·         7/12/04 –  The Overseas Basing Commission holds its first public hearing.

·         5/9/05 –  The Overseas Basing Commission presents its findings to Congress.

·         2/3/11 –  A February 2011 GAO global posture report examines the extent to which the US Military’s European Command (EUCOM) estimates and reports the total cost of DoD’s installations in Europe and has defined methods for evaluating posture alternatives and including the views of interagency stakeholders in its posture planning process.

·         4/15/11 –  President Obama orders a comprehensive review of the military’s missions and capabilities.

·         5/11/11 –  Leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee call on the DoD to re-examine U.S. military basing plans in East Asia, indicating billions of dollars could be saved in South Korea, Japan and Guam.

 

Overseas Basing Commission of 2005

 

·         The Congressionally mandated Overseas Basing Commission of 2005 consisted of six members, including four retired military flag officers.  It was chaired by Chairman; Al Cornella, a South Dakota businessman who also served on the 1995 Base Closure and Realignment Commission (Appointed by Senator Thomas Daschle).

·         The report focused on current and future geo-political posturing, operational requirements, mobility, quality of life, cost, and synchronization.

·         Notable takeaways:

·         The panel indicated that the Pentagon should slow its withdrawal of troops from Europe and Asia and should keep in Germany one of the two heavy armored units currently scheduled to return to the United States (Subsequently, in April 2011, the Army announced that it would be finally repositioning one of its four European Army Combat Brigades back to the United States).

·         Recommended not reducing our ground presence in Europe until the US adequately negotiated appropriate arrangements with Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland to assure the right mix of forces were stationed there.

·         The commission also said it believed the Pentagon had underestimated the cost of repositioning U.S. forces abroad.  It was estimated to cost closer to $20 billion than the $8-12 billion estimated by the Pentagon.

·         Many claimed that the Commission wrongly concluded the Pentagon had not adequately coordinated with other government agencies and with members of Congress, and disputed the panel’s finding that overseas changes should await decisions on domestic military base closures.

2011 GAO Report

·         In the February 2011 report, “Additional Cost Information and Stakeholder Input Needed to Assess Military Posture in Europe,” GAO found that:

·         Theater posture plans estimate military construction costs for installations in a combatant commander’s area of responsibility.

·         The US Military’s European Command does not report the total cost to operate and maintain installations in Europe (not required by the DoD.

·         Of the approximately $17.2 billion obligated by services to support installations in Europe from 2006 through 2009, approximately $13 billion (78 percent) was for operation and maintenance costs.

·         About $3.2 billion per year is spent on operation and maintenance, yet it is not included in reporting.  This does not account for changes in posture.

·         GAO has produced a number of other reports and been involved in discussions on the global posture of the US military:

·         In the Pacific (Japan & Guam) plans are to increase soldiers with families – the cost of this will be staggering.

·         Senators Webb, Levin, and McCain are working to get DoD to rethink these plans – slowing the increase of troops or stopping them.

·         Critics are saying we do not need to spend what we are spending in Europe.

·         The GAO Report’s forward discusses that savings for returning troops is offset by the cost to deploy.

·         The DoD is working on a rebuttal report as we speak, but we are not sure if it will address all of GAO’s recommendations.

Overseas Basing Commission of 2011 Legislation

·         Require the report to include a proposal for an overseas basing strategy to meet current and future DoD missions.

·         The Commission shall be composed of eight members, appointed by Congress, all of whom shall have significant experience in US national security or foreign policy.

·         The Commission shall conduct a thorough study of matters relating to the US military facility structure overseas, to include:

·         Assess the number of forces required to be forward based outside the United States;

·         Examine the current state of the military facilities and  training ranges overseas for all permanent stations and deployed locations;

·         Identify the amounts received by the United States, whether in direct payments, in-kind contributions, or otherwise, from foreign countries by reason of US military facilities overseas;

·         Assess the feasibility and advisability of the closure or realignment of US military facilities overseas, or of the establishment of new US military facilities;

·         Consider or assess any other issue relating to US military facilities overseas that the Commission considers appropriate.

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