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The Need to Evaluate Overseas Basing

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U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
November 14, 2011 | 1414 views | 5 comments

The clock is ticking for the 12 members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the “Super Committee,” to submit their debt reduction package to Congress by November 23rd. The Super Committee must make tough decisions about our nation’s finances in order to put us back on a sustainable and prosperous path. Many Senators, including me, have offered suggestions of ways to trim federal spending.

One common sense cost-saving measure I have advocated is a thorough reevaluation of our overseas military base needs, with the intention of relocating as many of our military personnel back to America as is prudently possible. American Forces have been deployed in Germany and Japan since World War II and in Korea since the Korean War. With mounting pressure to make drastic cuts in the defense budget, we should first look for savings by closing unnecessary overseas bases, rather than by reducing force structure or cutting critical weapons programs.

We should carefully evaluate the rationale for every single overseas base and, wherever possible, redeploy our men and women to stateside military installations. Aligning our overseas base commitments with projected security needs will enable us to save billions of dollars in construction and maintenance, bring thousands of troops back to America and take advantage of high quality training facilities and other resources at existing stateside bases.

According to reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office, it is significantly more expensive to maintain facilities overseas, particularly in Europe, compared to bases in America. In addition to the money that would be saved by closing or downsizing unneeded bases, our troops and their families would spend their paychecks in local communities and contribute to our economy, and billions of dollars in military construction would be performed here by American workers.

My idea has attracted support from a bipartisan group of Senators. For starters, we have asked the Super Committee to take a hard look at halting expensive overseas military construction projects, especially in Europe, South Korea and Guam. It makes no sense to build new facilities overseas if the affected bases may be closed or shrunk in coming years.

I’ve also recently introduced a bill with Senator Tester from Montana that would require a comprehensive review of the potential benefits and savings from closing outdated overseas military bases. Our legislation would establish a blue-ribbon commission of national security experts to review the United States’ current overseas basing structure, and report recommendations to the President and Congress. Modeled after the Hutchison-Feinstein 2005 Overseas Basing Commission, this commission would re-examine our current overseas bases in light of the nation's current fiscal challenges, new military capabilities, and evolving security threats to determine which bases could be closed, and what forces could be redeployed to bases in the continental United States.

The Commission would ensure that military spending on construction, operations, and maintenance match our future national security needs for training and force projection.

The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has estimated that strategically sound overseas base closings could save taxpayers $8.5 billion through 2015. There are a number of stateside military installations that could easily accommodate returning U.S. forces at great savings. For instance, we know that Fort Bliss and Fort Hood in Texas both offer unparalleled training facilities and equipment as well as family housing, excellent military health care, and ready access by rail to nearby Gulf ports for rapid worldwide deployment. At the same time, Texas offers supportive communities, educational and employment opportunities for family members, and an overall high quality of life.

It has been determined that deployment from U.S. bases is as rapid and efficient (sometimes more so) than deployment from other countries.

Tough choices are inevitable in order to get our nation’s fiscal house in order. Training more of our military stateside at a lower cost to the taxpayers, without jeopardizing troop readiness, is a common sense, painless way to help reduce our debt.

Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. Senator from Texas.
« Previous Blog Entry (November 9, 2011)

Your Opinions and Comments
Bob Pritts  
St Hedwig, TX  
November 21, 2011 10:45am
Senator Hutchison,

I believe our president has answered your plea, albeit in the opposite direction. He's sending 2,500 of our finest to Australia. Apparently there ... Read More Read More
Alvin Charmaine  
November 20, 2011 8:24am
Actually i dont think we are defending europe, we are taking advantage of their geography to maintain offensive capabilities. We can project forces to potential targets from ... Read More Read More
Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
November 19, 2011 9:52am
" Do you really think there isn't anyone in America who doesn't know that ..."

Well, apparently, there are way too many who don't. They either don't know ... Read More Read More
Alvin Charmaine  
November 14, 2011 3:31pm
Seriously? Do you really think there isn't anyone in America who doesn't know that it's expensive to operate a base in Europe? Great "Idea". ... Read More Read More
Elaine K.  
November 14, 2011 9:13am
New post.

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