Joint Chiefs chairman pushes BRAC

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. Jim R. Bounds/AP

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey warned that if Congress fails to grant him the ability to balance Defense Department cuts worse problems could result, the American Forces Press Service reported Thursday.

Despite Congress’ decision to slash the department’s budget, Dempsey said lawmakers may not approve of another round of base realignments and closures, which the Obama administration has said it will request.

Federal News Radio reported that House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., has promised to kill any BRAC proposals.

“We’ve got to make it clear,” Dempsey said, “if you withhold my ability to balance this thing, you could create some problems you don’t want to face downstream.”

Speaking to the Reserve Officers Association, Dempsey said that with a $487 billion budget reduction over the next decade, infrastructure must change accordingly.

“When we talk about balancing the force and our investment in balance, there’s manpower costs, there’s modernization and equipment costs, there’s training and maintenance costs, and then there’s this thing called infrastructure -- just those things involved with turning the lights on and off,” he said.

Cuts will have to be made proportionally from all areas of the department, Dempsey said.

“We’re going to need to get our infrastructure under control,” he said, emphasizing that the department must run like a business. “That’s why manpower costs have to be on the table, just like infrastructure.”

Dempsey acknowledged that senior Defense officials don’t want to close bases, but they are simply faced with tough choices.

“By the way, I didn’t pass the Budget Control Act,” he said. “I didn’t say, ‘Hey how about hitting me with a bill for $500 billion?’ ”

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