Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a plan this week to reduce the military’s size and budget. Closing or restructuring domestic bases is part of that plan. The next round of Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, is slated for 2017 if Congress approves it.
The Florida Defense Alliance - part of Enterprise Florida - works to ensure the state is an attractive site for bases, and they don't think closures are an immediate threat. Vice President Rocky McPherson says Hagel's budget is only an initial proposal, and it will face an uphill climb in Washington.
“There will be a request for a 2017 BRAC," McPherson said, "but remember it takes Congress to enact it, and given the current political climate that’s unlikely for right now.”
On the other hand, Retired Lieutenant General Tom Baptiste of the National Center for Simulation in Orlando told the Defense Alliance keeping bases open as budgets dwindle creates other challenges.
“The longer the Congress takes to decide whether they will grant the service chiefs and the secretary a round of BRAC, the more pressure is placed upon the individual services to find ways to reduce the cost,” Baptiste said.
Hagel’s proposal includes a reduction to the Navy’s fleet housed at the Jacksonville-area’s Mayport Naval Air station.