WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 28, 2012) -- The Army's military construction budget request for next year is 32 percent less than this year, Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, told senators.

Hammack testified Tuesday to the Senate Appropriations Committee, subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

"The MILCON (military construction) budget before you supports an Army in transition while at war," Hammack said

"Pending strategic decisions in the Army's end-strength reductions, force structure and stationing has required us to prioritize our facility investments and to defer some of those investments that could be impacted," she said.

This year's military construction and family housing project request for the Army is $3.6 billion.

"We know the fiscal challenges that this nation faces," Hammack said, "and are planning, accordingly, to implement what was asked of us by the Budget Control Act.

Forty-three projects worth $831 million were deferred outside of the future-year defense program until Army force structure and end-strength decisions are made, said Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, commander of Installation Management Command.

Once a total Army analysis is complete later this year, Hammack said, the Army will then rebalance the fiscal year 2014 construction budget to meet the needs of a realigned force.

She also talked about Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, and the Army's support of the administration's request for BRAC in fiscal years 2013 and 2015.

"BRAC 2005 was a very different BRAC round for the Army from previous rounds. It was a transformational BRAC with the focus on restructuring to train and man the way that we currently fight," Hammack said.

"We know that changes in force structure will necessitate evaluation of our facilities to optimize usage, capabilities and cost. We have listened to Congress and have followed your guidance to reduce cost and footprint in Europe and Korea."

"In Europe over the last six years, we have closed 97 sites and returned 23,000 acres to the host nation. In the next four years, we plan to close another 23 sites and return 6,400 acres, primarily in Germany.

"In Korea, over the last six years, we have closed 34 sites with 7,300 acres returned and in the next four years we plan to close another 20 sites and 9,400 acres returned to host nation. So we have been implementing a BRAC-like Base Realignment and Closure overseas, for many years, similar to what has been done in the United States.

Hammack also wanted to illustrate other reasons why the Army has been able to reduce costs.

"I want to briefly touch on our energy and sustainability program. Since 2003 we have reduced our installation energy consumption by over 13 percent, we have implemented a Net Zero initiative which focuses on reducing energy, water and waste on our Army installations and we currently have 17 installations that are striving to meet net zero by 2020.

"Our Energy Initiatives Task Force is focusing on large-scale alternative-energy production on Army installations which will give us the energy security that we require. At the same time we have accelerated the use of energy-saving performance contracts," Hammack said.

Each of these initiatives, she said, is leveraging private-sector capital, not appropriated funds, using authorities that members of Congress have given the Army.

"This enables us to enhance energy security, promote job growth in local communities, and leverage the cost effectiveness of the private sector," Hammack said.

Ferriter, commander of IMCOM and the Army's assistant chief of staff for Installation Management, told senators he was raised in an Army family and moved 18 times to different installations around the world. His wife also comes from an Army family, and he said together they raised four children, three of whom are serving in the Army.

Ferriter spoke specifically about the Army's budget requests for military construction in fiscal year 2013.

"I'd like to highlight three areas in this budget request. First is barracks. The Army's barracks modernization program for permanent-party and initial-entry-training barracks was to be completed and occupied by fiscal years 2015 and 2017. As a result of previous reductions, the Budget Control Act, and pending Army force structure and end-strength decisions, those barracks programs completion dates have been delayed."

"With that said, the Army has invested $720 million of this year's budget request in 12 critical barracks projects that will accommodate over 4,700 Soldiers. These projects will build up barracks shortages, reduce the number of barracks with common-area latrines, and replace temporary buildings."

The cadet barracks at the United States Military Academy, he said, is not a barracks in the traditional sense, but rather a dormitory with cadet living and learning spaces as well as company and battalion operation facilities for the cadre that train and mentor the future leaders of the Army and nation.

The second area he highlighted was overseas construction.

"Understanding the committee's desire to minimize construction overseas, the Army cannot ignore our Soldiers who are forward-deployed as the vanguard of our nation. The five overseas project programs for $209 million in this request provide critical facilities in support of the president's increased focus in the Asia-Pacific theater and works to complete the requirements in Europe in support of Europe and Africa combatant commanders.

The last thing he wanted to discuss was the need to modernize the Army's range and training facilities.

"About $232 million for the 17 projects in this budget are critical and necessary in training today's Army and the Army of the future. With the committee's support, the Army will be able to maintain the edge and the experience that 10 years of combat have given to this force," Ferriter said.

Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Kadavy, deputy director of the Army National Guard, concurred.

"In FY12, the Army National Guard will execute a military construction budget of $773 million across 48 projects in 38 states and territories. We are again forecasting a first-year project execution rate of 90 percent or greater. This will be our fourth consecutive year the Army National Guard has achieved this level of execution.

"This year's budget request is $614 million for 37 military construction projects across 26 states and territories, and represents 17.2 percent of the Army's military construction request.

"This request is a 21 percent reduction from the president's budget request of FY12. These projects will include readiness centers, ranges, maintenance shops and training facilities.

Addison (Tad) Davis, chief executive officer of U.S. Army Reserve Command, also supported the administration's request for more BRACs.

"Future rounds of BRAC would allow us to continue to further consolidate units where it makes sense to reduce reliance on leased spaces and potentially maximizing use of existing facilities that might be vacated by other components or other services," Davis said.