2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 26 Aug 2003 00:17:17 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Unclosure
According to the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Army converted
nearly 350,000 acres and over 15 million square feet of facilities into
Reserve enclaves at seven base closure installations during the 1990s.
Six of these bases - Ft. Hunter-Liggett (CA), Ft. Chaffee (AR), Ft.
Pickett (VA), Ft. Dix (NJ), Ft. Indiantown Gap (PA), and Ft. McClellan
(AL) - were closed in the 1995 round. The other, Ft. Devens (MA), was
approved for closure in 1991. Most of the property consists of training
(maneuver) areas now managed by reserve units.

One can understand why the Army transferred these properties to the Army
Reserve. Some are used routinely by the Reserves. With training areas
across the country encountering increasing conflicts with civilian
activity (encroachment), the Army anticipates restrictions on their use,
as well as continuing difficulty establishing new ranges. The Reserve
ranges serve, therefore, as reserve - that is, backup - ranges.
Furthermore, the requirements for ordnance response at such ranges are
minimized by their continuing use as "operational ranges."

Still, listing such facilities as closures was misleading. It overstated
the acreage opened up for other uses. GAO says it led to overestimation
of the cost savings associated with closure, but those savings have not
been included in recent total assessments of the impact of past closures.

GAO makes recommendations for the treatment of Reserve enclaves in the
upcoming 2005 closure round. For example, it praises the Defense
Department's new policies for considering the shared use of existing
facilities in evaluating them for closure.

However, GAO did not suggest (and it should have) that the Department
identify in advance those "closures" that really aren't closures. That
would help everyone understand the implications of future changes in the
Defense base structure. 

Furthermore, the Reserve enclaves are just some of the larger examples
of property on "closed" bases that remained in Defense Department
ownership or are still being used by the military. For example, the
runways at Kelly Air Force Base (TX) were re-aligned to the adjacent
Lackland Air Force Base. At Moffett Field (CA), the Navy housing area
was transferred to the Air Force upon "closure." In the 1995 round, the
Air Force was instructed to "close" the housing again, so it was handed
to the Army. Meanwhile, the Air National Guard still operates the
Moffett airstrip - under NASA ownership - and the Air Force controls the
NASA-owned base golf course.

GAO also reviewed three Air Force transfers to reserve units - March Air
Force Base (CA), Grissom Air Force Base (IN), and Rickenbacker Air
National Guard Base (OH). The GAO finds the Air Force partial closures
better planned than those by the Army, but it points out - at facilities
such as March - that the checkerboard of properties retained for
military use makes it more difficult to plan for non-military reuse.
This, in my view, has been part of the problem at Moffett Field and many
other closed bases where the Defense Department continues to operate.

Most communities are happy to retain any form of military activity as a
hedge against the economic losses cause by base closure, but such
enclaves may undermine the local community's ability to redevelop if
they aren't created in cooperation with local planning efforts.

See "Military Base Closures: Better Planning Needed for Future Reserve
Enclaves," General Accounting Offices, GAO-03-723, June, 2003 at http://www.gao.gov.

Lenny Siegel

Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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