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1st Session HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Report
DISAPPROVING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE DEFENSE BASE CLOSURE AND
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
H.J. RES. 65
ADDITIONAL AND DISSENTING VIEWS
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
September 29, 2005.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on
the State of the Union and ordered to be printed.
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
One Hundred Ninth Congress
DUNCAN HUNTER, California, Chairman
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania IKE SKELTON, Missouri
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado JOHN SPRATT, South Carolina
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York LANE EVANS, Illinois
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
HOWARD P. ``BUCK'' McKEON, MARTY MEEHAN, Massachusetts
California SILVESTRE REYES, Texas
MAC THORNBERRY, Texas VIC SNYDER, Arkansas
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana ADAM SMITH, Washington
WALTER B. JONES, North Carolina LORETTA SANCHEZ, California
JIM RYUN, Kansas MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina ROBERT A. BRADY, Pennsylvania
KEN CALVERT, California ROBERT ANDREWS, New Jersey
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut SUSAN A. DAVIS, California
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia JAMES R. LANGEVIN, Rhode Island
W. TODD AKIN, Missouri STEVE ISRAEL, New York
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia RICK LARSEN, Washington
JEFF MILLER, Florida JIM COOPER, Tennessee
JOE WILSON, South Carolina JIM MARSHALL, Georgia
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey KENDRICK B. MEEK, Florida
JEB BRADLEY, New Hampshire MADELEINE Z. BORDALLO, Guam
MICHAEL TURNER, Ohio TIM RYAN, Ohio
JOHN KLINE, Minnesota MARK UDALL, Colorado
CANDICE S. MILLER, Michigan G.K. BUTTERFIELD, North Carolina
MIKE ROGERS, Alabama CYNTHIA McKINNEY, Georgia
TRENT FRANKS, Arizona DAN BOREN, Oklahoma
BILL SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
THELMA DRAKE, Virginia
JOE SCHWARZ, Michigan
CATHY McMORRIS, Washington
MICHAEL CONAWAY, Texas
GEOFF DAVIS, Kentucky
Robert L. Simmons, Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
Purpose and Summary.............................................. 1
Executive Communication.......................................... 3
Legislative History.............................................. 3
Committee Position............................................... 4
Fiscal Data...................................................... 4
Congressional Budget Office Estimate......................... 4
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate.................... 4
Committee Cost Estimate...................................... 5
Oversight Findings............................................... 5
Constitutional Authority Statement............................... 5
Statement of Federal Mandates.................................... 6
Record Vote...................................................... 6
Additional and Dissenting Views:
Additional Views of Joel Hefley and Solomon P. Ortiz......... 8
Additional Views of J. Randy Forbes.......................... 10
Additional Views of Cathy McMorris........................... 12
Dissenting Views of Solomon P. Ortiz......................... 13
109th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
1st Session 109-243
DISAPPROVING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE DEFENSE BASE CLOSURE AND
September 29, 2005.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on
the State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Hunter, from the Committee on Armed Services, submitted the
ADDITIONAL AND DISSENTING VIEWS
[To accompany H.J. Res. 65]
The committee on Armed Services, to whom was referred the
joint resolution (H.J. Res. 65) disapproving the
recommendations of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment
Commission, having considered the same, report unfavorably
thereon without amendment and recommend that the joint
resolution does not pass.
PURPOSE AND SUMMARY
House Joint Resolution 65, introduced on September 20,
2005, by Congressman Ray LaHood, disapproves the
recommendations of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment
Commission as submitted by the President on September 15, 2005.
The resolution is one of two identical resolutions of
disapproval introduced by members of the House. It meets the
requirements for a resolution of disapproval as provided by
section 2908(a) of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act
of 1990 (Public Law 101-510, as amended).
Enactment of a joint resolution of disapproval within the
timeline prescribed by Public Law 101-510 would prevent the
base realignment and closure (BRAC) recommendations made by the
2005 BRAC Commission from taking effect.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002
(Public Law 107-107) authorized the use of amended authorities
and procedures contained within Public Law 101-510 to conduct a
round of base realignments and closures in 2005. The 2005 BRAC
round is the fifth round of base closures since 1988.
Pursuant to Public Law 107-107 and Public Law 101-510, on
May 13, 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted
to Congress and the Defense Base Closure and Realignment
Commission a list of recommended base closure and realignment
actions. The secretary's list comprised 190 recommendations,
including 33 ``major'' closures (``major'' installations were
defined by the secretary as those with a plant replacement
value exceeding $100 million), 29 ``major'' realignments, and
775 smaller closures and realignments. According to the BRAC
commission, implementation of the secretary's recommendations
would have resulted in net savings over 20 years of $47.8
billion, with annual savings after implementation of $5.4
On September 8, 2005, the commission submitted an amended
list of BRAC recommendations to the President. Of the
secretary's initial 190 recommendations, the commission
approved 119 with no change and another 45 with amendments. The
commission rejected 13 recommendations, significantly modified
another 13, and made 5 additional closure or realignment
recommendations. Of the secretary's recommended 33 major
closures, the commission approved 21, changed 7 to
realignments, and rejected the remaining 5. Of the secretary's
recommended 29 major realignments, the commission approved 25,
changed 1 to realignment, rejected the other 3, and added 1 not
requested by the secretary.
According to the commission, the revised recommendations
will result in 20 year savings of $35.6 billion over 20 years
with annual savings of $4.2 billion. However, a large part of
these savings would take the form of personnel becoming
available to conduct other tasks. Discounting the personnel
savings, the commission estimates that its recommendations will
result in net savings of $15.1 billion over 20 years with
annual savings after implementation of approximately $2.5
On September 15, 2005, the President concurred with the
commission's recommendations and sent them to Congress for
review \1\. Under the provisions of Public Law 101-510, the
commission's recommendations will become binding unless a
resolution of disapproval is enacted. The law specifies the
text of the resolution of disapproval and does not permit
additions, deletions, or amendments to the recommendations
affecting installations on the BRAC list. Enactment of the
resolution would require passage by both houses of Congress as
well as approval by the President or a veto override.
\1\ A complete copy of the report, as transmitted by the President
on September 15, 2005, is available as House Document 109-56.
Public Law 101-510 provides expedited procedures for
congressional consideration of the resolution of disapproval.
First, it provides for a limited period of time during which
the Senate Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee
on Armed Services may consider the resolution. Failure to act
within this time period would result in the resolution being
discharged from further consideration.
Second, on or after the third day after the committee has
reported the resolution, or has been discharged from further
consideration, any Member of Congress may move to proceed to
the consideration of the resolution, after giving notice the
preceding calendar day.
The commission recommendations will become binding unless
the resolution is enacted before one of the following occurs:
(1) the end of a 45-day period beginning on the date on which
the President transmitted the commission's recommendations to
Congress, but excluding any adjournment period of more than
three days; or (2) the adjournment sine die of Congress for the
The White House,
President of the United States,
Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 2005.
Congress of the United States, Washington, DC.
To the Congress of The United States: I transmit herewith
the report containing the recommendations of the Defense Base
Closure and Realignment Commission pursuant to sections 2903
and 2914 of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of
1990, Public Law 101-510, 104 Stat. 1810, as amended. That
report includes changes referenced in errata sheets submitted
to me by the Commission, including the enclosed errata sheets
dated September 8, September 9, September 12, and September 13,
I note that I am in receipt of a letter from Chairman
Principi, dated September 8, 2005, regarding a district court
injunction then in effect relating to the Bradley International
Airport Air Guard Station in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.
Chairman Principi's letter states that, as a result of that
injunction, ``you should consider the portion of Recommendation
85 . . . that recommends realignment of the Connecticut 103rd
Fighter Wing withdrawn from the Commission's report.'' The
Chairman's letter further states that ``[i]f the court's
injunction is later vacated, reversed, stayed, or otherwise
withdrawn, it is the intent of the Commission that the entirety
of the recommendation be a part of the Commission's report.''
On September 9, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for
the Second Circuit granted a stay of the district
court'sinjunction. Because the injunction is no longer in effect,
Recommendation 85 in its entirety is part of the Commission's report.
I certify that I approve all the recommendations contained
in the Commission's report.
George W. Bush,
As noted above, H.J. Res. 65 was introduced on September
20, 2005, and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.
On September 27, 2005, the Committee on Armed Services held
a mark-up session to consider H.J. Res. 65. The committee
reported adversely the resolution of disapproval by a record
vote of 43 ayes to 14 noes.
On September 27, 2005, the Committee on Armed Services met
in open session and, a quorum being present, reported adversely
the resolution H.J. Res. 65 to the House by a vote of 43-14.
Pursuant to clause 3(d) of rule XIII of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the committee attempted to ascertain
annual outlays resulting from the resolution during fiscal year
2005 and each of the following five fiscal years. The results
of such efforts are reflected in the committee cost estimate,
which is included in this report pursuant to clause 3(d)(2) of
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives.
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE ESTIMATE
September 28, 2005.
Hon. Duncan Hunter,
Chairman, Committee on Armed Services,
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.J. Res. 65,
Disapproving the Recommendations of the Defense Base Closure
and Realignment Commission.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is David Newman.
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE
H.J. Res. 65 would disapprove the recommendations of the
2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission,
preventing the Department of Defense from implementing those
recommendations. Enacting the joint resolution would not affect
direct spending or revenues. It would significantly affect
spending subject to appropriation--because implementation of
the Commission's recommendations is likely to cost money in the
near term, but save money over time. CBO has not prepared an
estimate of such discretionary costs and savings; however, a
summary of the Commission's estimates is included below.
The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 set up
a process by which military installations would be recommended
for closure or realignment by an independent commission. The
Department of Defense (DoD) would implement the recommendations
unless the Congress were to enact a joint resolution
disapproving them. Public Law 107-107, the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002, authorized a new round
of base closures and realignments for 2005, the first time
since 1995, and authorized the establishment of a commission to
review recommendations from DoD and to submit a final list of
recommended closures and realignments to the President of the
On September 8, 2005, the Commission released its
recommendations, which called for closing or realigning the
activities at 182 installations. When measured in 2005 dollars,
the Commission's analysis indicates that these actions would
cost $5.5 billion over the 2006-2011 period, but would save
$4.2 billion annually after that implementation period,
assuming that appropriations are reduced accordingly. Over 20
years, the Commission estimates that DoD could save over $35
billion, including $20 billion in savings associated with
eliminating some military personnel positions at closed
installations. However, since DoD's current force structure
plans do not include a reduction in military personnel, the
Commission notes that these savings are unlikely to be
realized, and estimates that actual savings would be about $15
billion over the 2006-2025 period.
The President concurred with the Commission's
recommendations and transmitted them to the Congress on
September 15, 2005. Under current law, if no action is taken by
the Congress, DoD will begin closing and realigning the
affected bases in 2006. Therefore, enactment of H.J. Res. 65
would cost money relative to current law because savings from
the base closures would be forgone. All costs and savings
related to those base closures and realignments would be
subject to appropriation action. CBO has not prepared an
independent estimate of the magnitude of the costs involved.
H.J. Res. 65 contains no intergovernmental or private-
sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is David Newman.
The estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
COMMITTEE COST ESTIMATE
Pursuant to clause 3(d) of rule XIII of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the committee generally concurs with
the estimate contained in the report of the Congressional
With respect to clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of
the House of Representatives, the committee reports that the
findings and recommendations of the committee, based on
oversight activities pursuant to clause 2(b)(1) of rule X, are
incorporated in the descriptive portions of this report.
With respect to clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of
the House of Representatives and section 308(a)(1) of the
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this resolution does not
include any new spending or credit authority, nor does it
provide for any increase or decrease in tax revenues or
With respect to clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules of
the House of Representatives, performance goals and objectives
can not be explained, because the resolution does not require
any new funding.
CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT
Pursuant to Rule XIII, clause 3(d)(1) of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the committee finds the authority for
this legislation in Article I, Section 8 of the United States
STATEMENT OF FEDERAL MANDATES
Pursuant to section 423 of Public Law 104-4, this
legislation contains no federal mandates with respect to state,
local, and tribal governments, nor with respect to the private
sector. Similarly, the resolution provides no unfunded federal
In accordance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of
the House of Representatives, the committee sets forth the
following record vote that occurred during the committee's
consideration of H.J. Res. 65.
As previously noted, the committee ordered H.J. Res. 65
report to the House with an adverse recommendation by a vote of
43-14, a quorum being present.
Although we differed in our positions on reporting H.J.
Res. 65 adversely to the House, we share the belief that the
2005 base realignment and closure (BRAC) round must be the
final time the current BRAC model is used to make closure and
We submit the following examples of events that occurred
during this BRAC round, within the parameters of the Defense
Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990, to demonstrate our
concerns with the existing process.
Following release of the Secretary of
Defense's BRAC recommendations, DOD was unprepared to
release data that supported its recommendations. Citing
security concerns, the Department's delays not only
impacted the ability of Congress, local communities,
and the commission to review the recommendations, but
created the appearance that DOD was ``slow rolling'' to
prevent the deconstruction of its recommendations.
Some observers have noted that certain
commission decisions appear to have been influenced by
political pressures. The spectre of politics within the
process raises legitimate concerns whether the BRAC
process, particularly the use of a commission within
the process, remains a viable one.
The commission included an unprecedented
number of ``contingent'' recommendations in its report.
Some recommendations--such as for Cannon Air Force
Base--created the appearance that commissioners were
avoiding making difficult political decisions. Other
recommendations--such as for Naval Air Station Oceana--
make extraordinary demands on the local community. It
is questionable whether this was an appropriate use of
the commission's powers, and it was not our intent that
the commission attempt to broker land acquisitions,
build buffer zones, or force states into negotiations
to keep their bases open.
The commission placed extraordinary emphasis
on the community impact of closures and realignments.
Although community impact is one of the selection
criteria, BRAC law clearly states that military value
criteria are of greater priority. Such reordering of
the criteria may result in infrastructure with less
than optimum military value and raises questions about
the commission's motivations.
The commission's lack of organization raised
questions about its credibility. For instance,
decisions made by the commissioners during and after
markup proceedings relating to Otis Air Force Base
resulted in DOD, communities, and commissioners alike
believing that the base had been closed. Instead, a
later review of the amendments voted on revealed that
the base had been realigned. Such events diminish
confidence in the commission's ability to conduct
business in a professional manner.
While we do not agree whether such flaws are sufficient to
warrant disapproval of the 2005 BRAC recommendations, each one
heightens doubts about the credibility of the process.
Considering that credibility is the foundation upon which
the BRAC process is built, its erosion is particularly
worrisome. In fact, as a result, we believe that BRAC 2005
should be the final time our nation conducts base realignments
and closures through the process as we know it today.
While we believe that further reductions of military
infrastructure after the 2005 BRAC round would present an
unacceptable risk to national security, we also recognize that
there may be a desire to make further base closures or
realignments in the distant future.
In such an event, we urge that Congress develop a new BRAC
process that is able to make measured, apolitical, and
transparent decisions while restoring its credibility. To do
less--by relying again upon the current BRAC legislation, for
instance--will surely result in recommendations in which the
nation has no confidence and may also result in decisions that
support political rather than national security interests.
Solomon P. Ortiz.
ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF REPRESENTATIVE J. RANDY FORBES
I am writing to respectfully express my additional views in
opposition to the BRAC process and to further explain my vote
supporting H.J. Res. 65 (the Joint Resolution Disapproving the
Recommendations of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I have always
viewed one of my responsibilities and one of my great honors to
stand with and support the military leaders who defend and
protect the United States of America every day. I am proud of
them and grateful for their service. My vote in support of H.J.
Res. 65 was a vote against the BRAC process and not a vote
against the recommendations of our military leaders. If my vote
would ultimately stop the realignments or closures deemed
necessary by our military leaders, I would not support H.J.
Res. 65. However, I am casting this vote to express my feeling
that this BRAC process is wrong and in hopes that it will not
In any realignment or closure process there are winners and
losers. In this case, the fourth congressional district of
Virginia, which I represent, was a winner. In fact, my district
fared quite well through the BRAC realignments, gaining almost
7,000 military positions and numerous other civilian support
jobs. However, the process used was flawed.
This BRAC round was marketed to Congress and the American
people with faulty and misleading estimates of savings that
could be realized if the recommendations were implemented. The
Department of Defense (DoD) originally claimed that the BRAC
recommendations would save $47.8 billion over 20 years after
the BRAC process was completed. These estimates were based, in
part, on ``savings'' that were to be realized from personnel
who would be eliminated due to bases being closed or units
being realigned. However, the BRAC process does not eliminate
personnel, only relocating personnel to other locations. These
personnel would still be paid their salaries and benefits at
their newly-assigned bases. So, the inflated BRAC savings were
based on these faulty assessments. The actual savings from
BRAC, based on the commission's recommendations, drop to $15.1
billion over 20 years. This is a considerably different figure
than initially advertised and should cause some to think
carefully before concluding that BRAC is a worthwhile endeavor.
Many of us had argued this point when BRAC was first proposed.
We are saddened that our fears were realized.
The savings issue becomes all the more important when
considering how a wrong decision in BRAC could be all that more
costly in the future. The BRAC process was accomplished before
the Overseas Basing Commission Report and the Quadrennial
Defense Review (QDR) have been completed and fully digested by
those experts who could make sound national security
assessments and recommendations with such information. This is
exactly the reverse of the way the process should work. The
Overseas Basing Commission Report and the QDR should inform the
BRAC process, not the other way around. I fear that in the not-
too-distant future that these reports may indicate that the
BRAC process has made the wrong determinations with respect to
some base closures and realignments recommended in this round
of BRAC. If this happens, it may be too late to change the BRAC
recommendations and we may have to spend even more time and
money to reestablish a base or capability that we thought was
disposable in the BRAC analysis. In addition, and perhaps most
frustrating, the BRAC process, as I predicted at the outset,
has been too political and the assessment standards applied
unequally to some regions and installations but not to others.
Finally, I take exception to the basic premise of the Base
Realignment and Closure process that allows nine non-elected
officials to make major strategic and irrevocable decisions
regarding our military infrastructure. These appointed
officials should not be allowed to overturn the decisions made
by our uniformed and civilian military leaders to which we
entrust our national security. Why nine individuals, some of
whom have no military experience, are a better judge of our
military needs than our elected officials and thousands of
career professionals in the DoD makes no sense. We entrust the
greatest fighting force the world has ever known to the hands
of our military leaders everyday and ask them to protect that
force and use it to defend and protect our country. I cannot
support a process that then allows nine non-elected people who
are politically appointed to tell those military leaders they
are wrong and what they must do with their facilities. That is
a role for Congress and should not be abdicated when so much is
The BRAC round completed in 2005 was untimely, overly
political, and marketed with misleading figures. This BRAC
round, in retrospect, may cause us to make irrevocable mistakes
when more thorough analyses such as the Overseas Basing
Commission Report and the QDR are taken into account. While it
is tempting for a member of Congress who has gained much in the
way of military personnel allocations through the BRAC process
to ignore its faults, I am casting this vote in hopes that we
will not use this process again in the future.
J. Randy Forbes.
ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF REPRESENTATIVE CATHY McMORRIS
Mr. Chairman, as a member of the House Armed Services
Committee, I would like to bring to the committee's attention a
few key points as they pertain to the most recent Base
Realignment and Closure Commission review of our nation's
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the
important role that Fairchild Air Force Base plays in our
national security efforts. Fairchild is home to the 92nd Air
Refueling Wing. It is located 10 miles west of Spokane,
Washington, is a modern, multi-mission base that is home to one
of the world's largest air-refueling winds and four co-located
units. These units include Washington National Guard 141st Air
Refueling Wing; the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency; the 336th
Training Group that operates the Air Force's only survival
school; and Air Combat Command 2nd Support Squadron.
I believe that the BRAC recommendations largely recognize
the important military assets of Fairchild Air Force Base.
However, I am concerned about the realignment of all eight Air
National Guard (ANG) KC-135 Tankers from Washington's 141st Air
Refueling Wing. Fairchild's active duty and Guard tankers
continue to serve a number of important state and federal
flying missions. Those missions include providing important
mobility for our national air defense through refueling and
providing the Governor of Washington and the region with
emergency airlift capacity in the time of state and regional
Furthermore, this realignment overlooks the critical role
that the 141st ANG plays in ensuring the security of the
Pacific Northwest and our nation. Air refueling tankers are
vital assets in the rapid protection of forces around the
world. With emerging security threats in the North Pacific,
this is not the time to be reducing our mobility of air assets.
Fairchild Tankers fly shorter distances to the Pacific Rim--
arriving with more fuel in less time--making them a valuable
part of our nation's national security efforts.
I am hopeful that the Department of Defense will reexamine
the realignment of the eight ANG Tankers from Fairchild Air
Force Base. This is critical due to their importance not only
to our national defense, but also serve Washington State and
the Pacific region in a strategic and crucial public safety
DISSENTING VIEWS OF REPRESENTATIVE SOLOMON P. ORTIZ
I continue to have abiding concerns about the security of
the Gulf of Mexico in light of the closure of the only two
Naval Stations in the Gulf of Mexico. This concern extends
beyond the fact that Naval Station Ingleside, located in my
district, is to be closed as a result of the 2005 Base
Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.
Sometimes we forget the importance of the Gulf of Mexico
region. One third of the continental United States ocean
coastline is located along the Gulf of Mexico compared to 40
percent along the East Coast and 27 percent along the West
Coast. Further, 51 percent of U.S. refining capability is along
the Gulf of Mexico compared to 17 percent and 11 percent along
the west and east coasts respectively. Over 70 percent of all
crude oil imports enter the U.S. through Gulf ports, where 8 of
the top 10 ports (tonnage) are located. The vast majority of
domestic oil and gas offshore production takes place in the
Gulf of Mexico compared to practically none along the East
Up to this point, the military basing plan put forth by the
Department of Defense and approved by the BRAC Commission will
ensure that there will be an ongoing active Navy presence along
the 1,900 miles of Atlantic Coast from Portsmouth, NH to Key
West, FL, including 84 Navy vessels. At the same time, there
will be ZERO Navy surface bases along the 1,550 miles of the
Gulf of Mexico with ZERO vessels homeported in the region.
The U.S. Northern Command has indicated there is an
acceptable level of risk to homeland defense in the Gulf of
Mexico after closure of all surface naval facilities in the
Gulf. NORTHCOM has also indicated that their actionable
intelligence plays a key role in the posture of our homeland
defense forces. While I have not yet obtained requested
information on maritime patrol flight and steaming hours in the
Gulf of Mexico compared to other regions of the continental
United States, I have obtained information from the Department
of Homeland Security and the Southern Command that cause me
great concern about the Gulf region, whether it be homeland
defense or security.
Additionally, one of the primary ``feeder'' areas for
maritime threat to the Gulf Coast of the U.S. logically stems
from Central and South America and Mexico. Since FY 2001, U.S.
military maritime patrol in this area has dropped dramatically.
In terms of days and hours of assets assigned to this operating
area, Navy surface assets available for patrol have been
reduced by 53 percent; U.S. Army air support for maritime
patrol has been reduced by 72 percent; Navy maritime air patrol
has shrunk by over 51 percent; and Air Force maritime patrol
has dropped by 59 percent. If these trends continue, this
critical area is going to be defended less, not more, in this
dangerous age. These statistics in and of themselves are
alarming. However, when coupled with other statistics related
specifically to our homeland defense strategy, it is very clear
that the U.S. has a serious threat to its southern coast that
is not adequately addressed or resourced.
Documented information from federal maritime commands
operating in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean would seem to
contradict the assertion that the Gulf is adequately protected
without ANY surface operational naval base in the region. For
example, of the criminal maritime traffic headed north towards
the Gulf, 75 percent of activity known to exist from actionable
intelligence is never detected--likely due to a lack of
maritime patrol assets operating in the Gulf area. Of the
detected hostile tracks, 25 percent are never intercepted.
According to documentation, 84 percent of the time this failure
is due to a lack of surface assets in the area.
With open source information clearly documenting the
increasing number of people with terrorist ties illegally
entering the Central and South American area, the history of
established maritime smuggling routes, and the large
concentration of national energy and food resources bordering
the Gulf of Mexico region--common sense dictates that the Gulf
of Mexico is a primary terrorist target and that planned basing
decisions do not provide adequate security.
For these reasons I am compelled to strongly disagree with
the BRAC recommendations and support House Joint Resolution 65.
We must ensure the Gulf of Mexico, and particularly the Western
Gulf, is not left vulnerable to terrorist attack due to
inadequate homeland defense and security coordination and
mission planning. Our citizens along the Southern coast of the
United States deserve the same level of protection as those
living along the east and west coasts.
Solomon P. Ortiz.