ALBANY, Ga. -- Good news for the military bases in the United States, at least for now.
The U.S. Department of Defense announced a decision this week to not close any domestic military bases during Fiscal Year 2013, with another round of base realignment and closures to be revisited in 2015 if approved by Congress, officials say.
U.S. Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, D-Albany, a ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies as well as co-chair of the Congressional Military Family Caucus, issued a statement on Wednesday concerning the decision.
"I am pleased with Defense Secretary (Leon) Panetta's announcement regarding the proposed round of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) for the next fiscal year," the statement read. "It is great news not only for Fort Benning, the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Robins Air Force Base, and other bases in Georgia, but for service members and their families throughout the entire state. I look forward to continuing my work with my colleagues in the Georgia Congressional Delegation, Governor (Nathan) Deal, and the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee (GMACC) in strengthening our bases in Georgia."
A request for comment from officials at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany was directed to Headquarters Marine Corps, and in turn directed to a spokeswoman for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
The spokeswoman provided a speech delivered by Panetta in Monterey, Calif., on Monday regarding military budget cuts.
In those remarks, the defense secretary addressed a plan of, rather than making cuts across the board, focusing instead on achieving savings through exploring various aspects such as efficiencies and force structure -- and at the same time building relationships with military communities.
"I understand, as I said, that now is not the time for a BRAC round, particularly when our economy is struggling to recover, but the reality is that the Department is going to need to take a hard look at what we do in terms of support infrastructure as we seek to reduce overhead costs," he said in his remarks. "It's the very definition of hollowing out the force. If I'm taking the force structure down and then maintaining large infrastructure costs, then the money that ought to be going for training, for assistance, for help, for our soldiers, is going to maintain the infrastructure. It's the definition of hollowing out if I do that. So we have got to have that debate and we've got to be able to find ways to achieve those savings. And I know -- having been through the BRAC process -- I know that often times the costs associated with BRAC were way out of line from what was predicted.
"But at the same time, having gone through that process, we're now achieving savings -- producing annual savings of about $8 billion (sic $12 billion), as a result of going through those rounds, and that's significant."
The U.S. Department of Defense's BRAC serves to downsize the physical infrastructure of the country's military both stateside and abroad. The last BRAC round was called in 2005, which resulted in the closure of two Army bases in Georgia -- Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem.
In June, a roundtable with GMACC, military leadership and representatives from Deal's office met during a quarterly meeting in Albany to discuss and prepare for the potential impact of a BRAC round on Georgia. At the meeting, the general consensus was that a BRAC round was not likely to be called in 2013, with the possibility of a round in 2015 or 2017 more likely -- and that the state's remaining bases needed to be put in the best position to avoid further closures.
The nation is currently facing a national debt in the trillions of dollars. Officials have said that part of the plan to control this problem is to somehow cut roughly $500 billion from the defense budget in the coming years.