By Dennis K. BohannonJuly 22, 2011
AS Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and other senior leaders define what the Army will look like in 2020, another group in the “D” ring of the Pentagon focuses on a black digital clock labeled “BRAC 2005 DEADLINE.”
Since 2007, the clock has been the dominant feature in the assistant chief of staff for Installation Management conference room. It reminds those who manage the 102 congressionally approved Army Base Realignment and Closure recommendations that time is ticking to complete the $11 million-per-day program and finish 1,147 separate Army actions to meet legislative mandates.
The red LED lights count away the days, hours, minutes and seconds remaining before the midnight, Sept. 15, 2011, BRAC deadline. Those watching that clock are focused both on the remaining tasks as well as the past half-decade, and how the Army has embraced the changes and taken advantage of the opportunities provided through BRAC. These opportunities reshaped how the Army trains, deploys, supplies, equips and garrisons.
The Army is responsible for 47 percent of the entire Department of Defense BRAC 2005 program"three times the total of the four previous rounds. This round will be historic, as it has helped support the Army’s largest organizational transformation since World War II.
In 2005, the Army strategy was to use BRAC as an opportunity to streamline installations, enhancing their value to the military through transformation, rebasing overseas units and supporting joint operations and functions. Unlike previous BRAC rounds, where the emphasis was on disposing of excess Cold War capacity, the Army focused its efforts on returning installations that were no longer relevant or effective in supporting the joint and expeditionary Army. The end result of the strategy was to reduce costs and reinvest those savings in the service’s long-term infrastructure.
The Army also synchronized BRAC with transformation. It helped move the Army from brigade-centric to modular forces, thus enabling Soldiers to be more relevant and ready to meet future defense missions.
As part of this synchronization, the service realigned 53 installations or functions, enabling it to establish multi-component headquarters, joint bases, joint power projection platforms and joint technical and research facilities. Overseas, these actions helped accommodate the rebasing of forces under Global Defense Posture Realignment.
The Army has also gained both doctrinal efficiencies and improved Soldier training via the creation of centers of excellence, key concept components in the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s realignment. These centers allow the Army to consolidate staff sections into one office at each center for training, combat and doctrine development.
Upon the completion of BRAC 2005, the Army will have closed 12 active-component installations, one Reserve installation, 387 National Guard Readiness and Army Reserve centers, and significantly reduced its occupancy in eight leased facilities, thus returning more than 70,000 acres of excess property and facilities to communities for redevelopment.
These efforts"a $13.5 billion planning, design and construction program consisting of 440 projects; $0.3 billion to fund environmental projects; and $3.9 billion for computers, furniture, equipment and permanent change of station moves"have freed property, lowered financial costs and reduced the size of the work force, making Soldiers and civilians available for other assignments. This helps to adjust installation infrastructures to meet the needs of the force and improve Soldier and Family quality of life. The result of this almost $18 billion total investment is a more efficient and affordable means to maintain America’s Army as the premier ground fighting force on the globe.
“The Army has carefully coordinated and synchronized plans for implementing BRAC 2005 mandates while continuing to conduct critical missions in support of overseas contingency operations and homeland defense,” Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment said in a report to the House Committee on Appropriations.
“These plans are a massive undertaking, requiring the synchronization of base closures, realignment, military construction and renovation, unit activations and deactivations, and the flow of forces to and from global commitments,” Hammack added. “It is a balanced program that supports our Soldiers, their Families, Army transformation, readiness and worldwide commitments.”
The geographical face of Army command has forever changed.
U.S. Army Forces Command, the Army’s largest command and the generating force provider for combatant commanders, moved from Fort McPherson, Ga., to Fort Bragg, N.C., last month, relocating some 2,800 headquarters staff members.
TRADOC, which operates 33 schools and centers at 16 Army installations, moved their headquarters of 37 years from Fort Monroe, Va., to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., in June.
U.S. Army Materiel Command began rolling out the welcome mat for headquarters personnel at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., in 2007, and is now operating in its new location having completed their move from Fort Belvoir, Va., in April. Thirty BRAC actions across the command closed ammunition plants and chemical demilitarization sites, realigned depot maintenance functions and reconstituted new laboratories and administrative spaces. The actions affected one in every six AMC employees"approximately 11,000 employees across 25 states. AMC also consolidated into four centers of gravity located at Huntsville, Ala.; Rock Island Arsenal, Ill.; Warren, Mich., and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. In addition, AMC reduced their leased space by more than 235,000 square feet.
“The real value of BRAC isn’t about simply realigning the deck chairs, or just getting rid of excess,” said Kate Kelley, chief of AMC’s BRAC office. “It is truly about making the organization as a whole function better"more fiscally efficient, effective and poised to meet the current and future needs of the nation in a complex and challenging environment.”
Additionally, BRAC has had significant impacts on transforming the Reserve and Guard. BRAC 2005 has resulted in the largest transformation to impact Reserve forces since World War II. It is also considered the most complex move the Reserve has faced in its 102 years of existence.
Lieutenant Gen. Jack Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve and commander of U.S. Army Reserve Command, said the BRAC move provides a singular opportunity to redefine the Army Reserve.
“We’re implementing the Army’s enterprise approach within our staff, managing personnel and logistics issues at the lowest possible level of organization,” Stultz said. “By regulation and policy, some functions must be handled at headquarters level, but there are many management issues that can be decentralized to regional and O&F;(operational/functional) commands during our BRAC move.”
The $2.6 billion investment helped realign the Reserve’s command and control structure, which affects all USAR operational and functional commands and training structures. The USAR has also created four regional support commands and six deployable units, a force structure that parallels the active component and better positions Reserve forces to support current and future contingencies.
“Transformation never stops. The Army Reserve will use the opportunity that BRAC provides to better position our forces to support current operations, and to decentralize some of the functions typically managed at headquarters,” Stultz said.
“Because of BRAC, we are constructing 125 new joint and multi-component Reserve centers and closing 176 older Army Reserve facilities,” said David Gilbert, chief of the BRAC division at USARC. “In the years since the law was enacted, we’ve gone from 10 regional readiness commands to four regional support commands to reduce overhead, grow our operating force and to align our units to better support the Army’s operational needs.”
Through more than 700 BRAC actions, the Army National Guard has reshaped its peacetime administrative management. It consolidated multiple headquarters activities, transformed non-deployable headquarters into fully deployable war fighting units and activated maneuver and sustainment brigades.
The effort closes 176 facilities, about four percent of the total facility inventory, he said, adding that the new centers will bring facilities up to modern standards, while increasing the overall available square feet.
Through BRAC funding, the Army has been able to build and improve the facilities and infrastructures needed to support the modern expeditionary Army in less time and at a lower cost than ever before. These efforts over the past five years have helped reshape the service’s infrastructure in a manner that provides enhanced quality of life for Soldiers, Families and civilians.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers oversees all military construction efforts. For them, BRAC-2005 represented an unprecedented $16 billion program consisting of 440 projects ranging from barracks and hospitals to the largest building constructed in decades and tallest office building they have ever constructed.
The Army developed standard designs for building types in order to keep up with the rapid pace of construction, changing its approach to efficient facility design. Requirements throughout the planning, programming, budgeting, design and building processes also strengthened the Army’s sustainability, energy security and energy independence through more responsible resource consumption and planning, USACE officials said.
The Army also made a deliberate decision to have new buildings constructed in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. The Army is now at the forefront of cutting edge initiatives in facility design, construction and operation in accordance with inherently green principles. The new buildings are more energy efficient and use less water, and operation and maintenance costs are reduced over the lifecycle of the building, which lessens the impact on the environment.
Addison D. “Tad” Davis IV, command executive officer for USARC, is a leading advocate for sustainability and energy security and environmental stewardship issues. As the former deputy assistant secretary of the Army for environment, safety and occupational health, he considers incorporating sustainable principals, energy security and environmental stewardship a high priority for the Army.
“As a result of BRAC, we’re getting world-class facilities that greatly enhance the training and readiness of the Army Reserve. We’re constructing green buildings at Army Reserve centers and Armed Forces Reserve centers, which really demonstrates tremendous leadership in this field,” said Davis. “The standard we are trying to set impacts Reserve Soldiers and the local community in a very positive way. I think it’s something that will resonate in communities across the nation and also with young people out there that may be interested in looking into joining the Army Reserve.”
Moves associated with BRAC 2005 have resulted in the relocation of about one third of the Army Family: 250,000 Soldiers, Family members and civilians. Throughout BRAC, the Army has remained committed to taking care of people.
Moving is a commonplace for Soldiers and their Families, but approximately 29,500 civilian positions were impacted by BRAC 2005. For many civilians, deciding to follow their command presented a challenge, and moving to a new city or state presented a unique experience.
Civilian personnel offices expect to process more than 6,746 actions during the last five months of the fiscal year. While this is an enormous increase in workflow, civilian personnel offices across the United States supported and provided face-to-face, one-on-one assistance and guidance for civilian employees. In addition to local town hall meetings and local area assistance offices, BRAC-affected commands established localized websites for affected personnel to provide information and 24/7 online assistance on topics including new communities, spouse employment, student information and homeowners’ assistance programs.
Employees opting to move with their commands were authorized all applicable permanent change of station costs, travel and transportation expenses, relocation assistance, assistance with the purchase and sale of homes and real estate expense reimbursement. Employees whose positions were eliminated because of closure or those who chose not to relocate were eligible for assistance through the DOD’s Priority Placement, Interagency Career Transition and Job Exchange programs.
“Senior leaders are extremely proud of the customer service and commitment of our Army civilian human resource professionals,” said Dr. Susan Duncan, of the G-1 Civilian Personnel office. “Serving the needs of the Army and those who serve has always been our number one priority.”
It cannot be forgotten that the Army’s successful implementation of BRAC was realized while supporting two wars and taking care of the advanced medical needs of wounded warriors.
BRAC legislation has realigned Walter Reed Army Medical Center and merged it with the National Naval Medical Center to become the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, Md. It exemplifies the goal of BRAC by focusing the unique capacity of the two separate facilities and bringing them together on one campus. The merger at Bethesda will double the patient capacity and provide improved medical services, particularly for servicemembers wounded in combat, by providing them with more advanced medical expertise.
The new $1.03 billion Fort Belvoir Community Hospital will help handle the realignment of Walter Reed, and share the responsibility of caring for the nation’s heroes. The 1.3 million square-foot facility features 120 beds, 55 primary and specialty care clinics and primary- and secondary-level care. More than 3,200 employees will manage the 1,500 patient visits per day.
BRAC also forever changed the faces of the civilian communities that support our Army installations, Soldiers, Families and civilians.
The arrival of thousands of new residents in a relatively short time can place a considerable strain on the local community infrastructure. Communities have assessed housing requirements, school capacities and other community service requirements from health care, fire protection and safety, to roads and trash collection capabilities. Many communities began preparation for the anticipated influx of military, civilian and contractor personnel well before the BRAC 2005 announcement.
“Army installations have always considered themselves to be part of the local community"a tradition we proudly continue as we work with, and support, local planning efforts,” said Dr. Craig College, deputy assistant chief of staff for Installation Management.
From the onset of BRAC 2005, USACE program managers and installation personnel began engaging and working with community leaders to identify local issues and overcome the near-term social and economic impacts created by the influx of thousands of Soldiers and Families. These efforts have strengthened Army relationships with civilian communities through teaming efforts such as Fort Benning (Ga.)’s Regional Group, The Fort Riley (Kan.) Task Forces Group and The Multi-state Community Advisory Commission at Aberdeen, Md.
The BRAC transformation not only sustains the Army, it creates economic opportunities in both gaining and closing communities. BRAC has brought more than 327 military construction projects to communities in 43 states, but for gaining installation communities such as El Paso, Texas (outside Fort Bliss), BRAC has also brought jobs and thousands of new military residents who are willing to invest in those communities.
Although BRAC 2005 is an $18 billion investment for the Army, the resulting impact of BRAC moves, construction and realignments will continue to benefit communities across the United States. The impact and benefits are not limited to those communities who have gained facilities and personnel, but extend to many of those communities who have lost military assets.
Once BRAC is complete, the Army will have returned or repurposed 70,363 acres of excess property. Much of this land has already been returned and is being repurposed by local communities, and the Army is committed to working with BRAC 2005 communities to determine the best use of the land and ease the transition, using examples of productive economic development transitions from previous BRAC rounds as models.
For example, more than 3,000 new jobs were generated and 2.7 million square feet of new construction occurred on repurposed property at Fort Devens, Mass. With 68 different employers on site, redevelopment ranged from small business incubators to the Gillette Corp., which occupies a large warehouse, distribution center and manufacturing plant. Another example is Cameron Station, near Alexandria, Va. The area, used by the Army until the early 1990s, is now filled with luxury townhomes.
While the Army worked hard to ensure it satisfies BRAC requirements, it faces the risk that several recommendations may not be completed by the September deadline due to scheduling challenges. Army senior leaders continue to manage these recommendations and are developing mitigation procedures to ensure the service meets its obligations.
As the clock winds down on BRAC 2005, it’s important to note that it is the fifth in a series of BRAC rounds. The four previous rounds resulted in recommendations to close 97 of 495 major domestic installations: BRAC 1988 closed 16 major installations, BRAC 1991 closed 26, BRAC 1993 closed 28 and BRAC 1995 closed 27.
Previous BRAC rounds reduced the DOD’s property holdings by 20 percent and, through 2001, produced a net savings of approximately $16.7 billion (after factoring in the cost of environmental clean-up). Recurring savings beyond 2001 were approximately $6.6 billion annually. In independent studies conducted over previous years, both the General Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office have consistently supported the department’s view that realigning and closing unneeded installations produce savings that far exceed costs.
Consolidating and closing facilities under BRAC 2005 will potentially save billions of dollars, allowing funds to be focused on maintaining and modernizing facilities needed to better support Soldiers and Families, recruit quality personnel and modernize equipment and infrastructure.
Editor’s Note: For more information about BRAC 2005 visit http://www.hqda.army.mil/acsim/brac/braco.htm.