Overseas panel, Pentagon fail to resolve cost differences over moving personnel

Members of the Overseas Base Commission and Pentagon policy officials Monday failed to resolve vast differences in cost estimates and other lingering uncertainties associated with moving tens of thousands of military personnel out of Europe, Korea and elsewhere around the globe.

The independent panel and the Defense officials were unable to arrive at a concrete cost figure for the massive move, considered the most sweeping military reorganization since the 1940s.

But the commission did get a better look at the department's $9 billion to $12 billion estimate -- a low figure compared to the $20-plus-billion price tag the commission placed on the move, Commission Chairman Al Cornella told reporters Monday.

The Pentagon number deals only with one-time costs, while the commission's figure includes recurring costs that will arise over the next two decades.

"Each understands each other's estimates," Cornella said.

However, commissioners voiced some concern that the Pentagon has not set aside enough money to fund the relocation, with only $4 billion budgeted for it through 2011.

If the department fails to accurately identify costs and fully fund the move, the government will have three options -- all bad, said Commissioner Keith Martin, a retired Army National Guard brigadier general.

Services either will be forced to pay for the move out of their transformation and readiness accounts, Congress will need to appropriate supplemental funds or the troops "move anyway, at the cost of additional strain," Martin said.

During the meeting, Pentagon officials told the commission the breadth of the move, once expected to affect 70,000 military personnel, might be narrowed somewhat, Cornella said. The department now expects to move only 61,000 troops out of Europe and Asia. That number, however, is in flux and expected to change.

The commission requested the meeting in a June 30 memo to Pentagon policy chief Douglas Feith, demanding more information about the cost of the move and how the department intends to budget and pay for it over the next several years.

Aside from cost figures, the commission also asked for more details about how domestic bases would handle the flood of troops from overseas, as well as any international agreements to host new installations abroad.

Commissioners walked away from the meeting satisfied that the Pentagon is adequately addressing ways to expand infrastructure and otherwise handle quality-of-life issues at the "receiving installations," Cornella said.

However, the chairman said he still foresees quality-of-life problems for personnel and families moving back to the United States, including inadequate housing and overcrowded schools.

"Forces are already moving and the infrastructure is not in place," he said. Pentagon officials "expressed their concern over the same issue."

The overseas base moves affect the Army far more than any other military branch, and the service has a plan in place to deal with the troop movement, said Commissioner H.G. (Pete) Taylor, a retired Army lieutenant general.

"The question is, will they get it funded?" he added.

Defense officials told the military services they could expect to spend $4 billion on the overseas personnel moves and military construction costs over the next five years. The Army would bear the brunt of those costs, about $3.6 billion.

But the Army's figure has grown substantially in the last several weeks and the other services are now devising new cost estimates to relocate their troops.

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

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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