Overseas basing panel concerned about pace of relocations

Members of the Overseas Basing Commission Tuesday reiterated their concern that the Defense Department is moving too quickly in its plans to move nearly 70,000 troops stationed abroad to domestic military installations by the end of the decade.

At issue is whether the Pentagon can work quickly enough to prepare housing and training sites for the influx of troops, and whether the military has adequate air and sea lift to transport soldiers from the United States to foreign hot spots, members told the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee.

Meanwhile, a quick move -- mostly from Germany and the Korean peninsula -- might cost $20 billion or more and "adversely impact the services' ability to adequately fund modernization and transformation," commission Chairman Al Cornella told the panel.

Commissioners also warned that a hasty relocation might hinder recruitment and retention efforts, which have already faced serious challenges because of recurring deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Subcommittee ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., echoed many of the commissioners' fears and also noted that the Pentagon had not given enough thought to foreign policy, or to its "overreaching objectives," before preparing for the move.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, however, stated that delaying the move would postpone modernization efforts and the Army's transformation into a more nimble, brigade-based force.

In a "perfect world," military members and families would face no quality-of-life interruptions during the transfer back to the United States, but the impact of a delay on future plans would have even more devastating effects, she said.

Meanwhile, Pentagon officials contended that they have worked with the State Department on their overseas basing plan and have addressed foreign policy concerns with 20 nations.

Ryan Henry, the principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for policy, added that deploying troops from the United States for overseas contingencies, rather than directly from Europe or Asia, would not add any risk to operational and deployment plans.

"Uncertainty is part of the strategy landscape which we have had in the post-9/11 world," Henry said.

He added that the Pentagon will have a better idea of its strategic air- and sea-lift needs early next year, when it completes its massive Quadrennial Defense Review of military capabilities, force structure and plans.

Congress created the six-member overseas commission in 2004 to provide an objective, independent analysis of the Pentagon's global base posture plans. The commission submitted a preliminary report to Congress and the Defense Department in May, and will file its final report by Aug. 15.

Subcommittee members also voiced concerns about the overall cost of moving troops from overseas.

The Pentagon estimated that total costs could range from $9 billion to $12 billion, but a Government Accountability Office evaluation put the price tag at closer to $20 billion, much of which will come from the services' operations and maintenance spending accounts.

Defense officials told the commission that the total cost could come to $25 billion, Cornella said. And, while it is "logical to assume" that relocating troops to the United States might save some money in the long run, the savings might not amount to much because the military would have to replicate many of the facilities in Europe in the United States, he added.

"We just can't pretend we can do all of this with minimal-to-no cost," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

If adequate funds are not set aside for the troop transfer and the Pentagon sticks to its current schedule, it "could drive unforeseen consequences," noted commission Vice Chairman Lewis Curtis.

But despite several concerns about the Pentagon's timetable, the effects on military quality of life and the services' lift capabilities, commissioners stressed that they largely agree with the premise for the Pentagon's global basing changes and its desire to relocate troops.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.