Instructions that the Pentagon has sent out to base commanders indicate that the 2005 Defense Department base closings exercise will be an all-players game, since all installations have been ordered to participate in the call for information.
The all-hands approach was not a surprise, since DoD last year resisted congressional efforts to wall off certain installations from review in the base closing process. The result is that even facilities that are widely considered core elements of the DoD structure and thus indispensable will have to comply with what in the past has proven to be a burdensome and nerve-wracking process. DoD said it is necessary for all facilities to participate in order to “treat all military installations equally and to make its closure and realignment recommendations based solely upon certified data.”
The data call is the first of what could be many orders that will require installations to essentially justify their existence under pressure from top Pentagon leaders to use the new base closing authority aggressively to cut back on the department’s facilities. As in past base closing rounds, much of the burden of making the case for keeping an installation open likely will fall on senior and mid-level management.
DoD’s proposals will be made to a special commission that is to be named by March 2005. That commission’s recommendations will have to be accepted or rejected in their entirety by Congress and the White House, with the process set up to pave the way for acceptance.