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BRAC should be feared in Georgia

Legislative update

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POSTED: July 17, 2014 4:00 p.m.

Few acronyms raise the concern of elected officials, community leaders and military personnel as much as BRAC does.
BRAC stands for Base Realignment and Closure.  
Originally known as Base Closure and Realignment when it began in the late 1980s, BRAC is the process that the Department of Defense uses to reorganize its base structure to make for a more efficient military.  
Five rounds of BRAC have occurred since its inception (1989, 1991, 1993, 1995 and 2005) and have resulted in the closing of more than 350 installations.  
As an elected official participating in the BRAC process of 2005, I was thankful for the tireless efforts that elected officials, community leaders and military personnel funneled into protecting our installations in this area.   
The 2005 BRAC commission recommended another round of BRAC be authorized by Congress in 2015 and then every eight years thereafter.
While a BRAC commission for 2015 was requested by President Barack Obama in his fiscal year 2014 budget, Congress never gave the authorization and, therefore, it never was created.    
Another BRAC commission has been requested in the president’s FY 2015 budget but, again, has not been approved by Congress.
According to BRAC laws, the secretary of defense must set the criteria by which bases are to be closed or realigned by considering military, fiscal and environmental issues likely to be affected by those decisions.
A wide variety of criteria is used by the DoD to determine which bases are to be closed or realigned, including return on investment, economic impact, community infrastructure and environmental impact.
The 2005 BRAC hit Georgia hard, particularly in the metro Atlanta region with the closure of Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem on the south side of Atlanta. This left Dobbins ARB Air Force Base as the last remaining military installation in the metro Atlanta region.
The Navy Supply Corps School in Athens also was closed during the 2005 BRAC.
The closing of these facilities during the 2005 BRAC was particularly painful to Georgia, costing the affected base communities 7,200 military and civilian jobs and $568 million in payroll.  
With nine military installations remaining in our state contributing an estimated $20 billion to our state’s economy each year, it’s no wonder the acronym BRAC raises the ire of elected officials, community leaders and military personnel in our state.
As a result of the 2005 BRAC and in preparation of future BRACs, the Governor’s Defense Initiative was formed in 2012 to help coordinate economic-development opportunities at Georgia’s military bases and their surrounding communities.
Because we have four military installations in the 1st Congressional District with Moody Air Force Base, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air Field, community leaders in our area remain concerned about BRAC.  
Each of these great facilities has its own unique characteristic that can justify its existence.
Fort Stewart, for example, is home to the world famous 3rd Infantry Division and is the largest, most effective and efficient armor-training base east of the Mississippi.  
Hunter Army Air Field is home to the Army’s longest runway on the East Coast and the Truscott Air Deployment Terminal.    
Moody Air Force Base executes worldwide close air support, force protection and combat search-and-rescue operations to support our national security and the global war on terrorism.
Kings Bay is the U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s home port for the Navy’s Trident missile nuclear submarines.
We truly are blessed and proud to have all of these military installations in our state, especially those in the 1st Congressional district.           
The No. 1 responsibility of our federal government is to provide for the safety of our citizens and that can only be done through a strong military.   
BRAC is one acronym I hope not to see again soon. But if it surfaces, I — along with other elected officials and community leaders in the 1st District —will be ready to fight for our bases again.

Carter, who is running for Congress, can be reached at on Facebook at facebook.com/buddycarterga.

 

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