WASHINGTON (March 19, 2015) – “The Army is in the process of conducting approximately 30 community listening sessions at all Army installations with military and civilian populations of 5,000 or more,” Lt. Gen. David D. Halverson told lawmakers, March 17.
Halverson, commander of the Army’s Installation Management Command, provided oral and written testimony to the Senate Appropriation’s Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee regarding fiscal year 2016 military construction and family housing budgets.
The community listening sessions “give communities an opportunity to contribute feedback that will be taken into consideration by Army leaders before decisions are made on force structure reductions for specific installations,” he said.
The active end-strength reductions are the result of sequestration, putting the Army on a glide path of 570,000 active-duty Soldiers in 2010 to 450,000 by 2018, he said. Those troop reductions “will affect every installation in the Army” as well as the nearby communities.
Halverson then described an inverse relationship where troop reductions correlate to an increase in excess capacity, making a strong case for a future round of base realignment and closure, or BRAC.
“Our parametric analysis shows that the Army facility capacity is 18 percent greater than required for the [current] 490,000 active force. As end strength declines further, more capacity is created,” he said, meaning excess facilities.
Budget uncertainties due to sequestration are hurting local communities, he said. “Current funding requires installations to scale back or cancel service contracts that employ people in local communities and requiring installations to work with commanders to use special duty assignments to support installation services and programs.”
Examples of those services and programs, he said, are installation security, transportation, vehicle and range maintenance and ammo handling.
“Without a reduction in the number of installations, the Army will be forced to sacrifice quality-of-life programs at the expense of maintaining excess capacity,” he said. The cumulative effect will also harm adjoining communities.
BASE REALIGNMENT AND CLOSURE (BRAC) BENEFITS
“There is life after BRAC for defense communities,” Halverson said, arguing for another round.
BRAC-impacted communities have received planning grants and technical assistance from the Defense Department’s Office of Economic Assistance, or OEA, as well as BRAC property disposal authorities. These benefits would likely have not been possible outside of the BRAC process.
Halverson then provided three examples of how BRAC properties have been put to new uses.
CommVault, a data protection and information software company, moved its global headquarters last year to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Besides moving 500 existing employees there, 400 new hires were brought in to their new, 275,000-square-foot facility.
The company anticipates an additional 2,000 hires upon completion of a 650,000-square-foot addition to the 55-acre campus. This will likely result in establishment of a “technology hub” on the former Army post, he predicted.
The second example is on Fort Gillem, Georgia, where Kroger, one of the world’s largest grocery retailers, will open a 1 million-square-foot, state-of-the-art distribution center on 253 acres. This will result in the creation of 120 new jobs and investing more than $175 million into the former Army and Air Force Exchange Service distribution facility over the next five years, he said.
The new jobs will include warehouse, security, transportation management, engineering and facilities management positions. The community anticipates 1,500 new jobs over the next two years and revenues to support critical services for the residents of Forest Park, he said.
Like at Fort Monmouth, the Army conveyed this property to the Local Redevelopment Authority as an Economic Development Conveyance, receiving $15 million at closing with an additional $15 million in structured payments over the next seven years.
The third BRAC example is Army Reserve Center #2 in Houston. This six-acre site, including more than 15,000 square feet, was turned over in August 2012 to the city of Houston under a Department of Justice Public Benefit Conveyance for use as a police department, he said.
“This type of re-use is common across the country whenever the Army closes a Reserve Center,” he said.