The Defense Department's budget for next fiscal year requests $4 million to begin planning a round of base closures to begin in 2019 - and the department is threatening unilateral action if Congress once again denies the request.
The department for several years now has asked Congress to authorize another round of Base Realignment and Closure but has been blocked by lawmakers worried that military installations in their states and congressional districts could be on the chopping block.
"The need to reduce excess facilities is so critical that, in the absence of authorization of a new round of BRAC, the administration will pursue new options to reduce wasteful spending on surplus infrastructure within existing authorities," the White House Office of Management and Budget says in its fiscal 2017 budget blueprint.
The US Army says it has divested all but two of its Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior squadrons under its sweeping aviation restructure initiative, which handed the armed aerial scout role to unmanned RQ-7 Shadow UAVs.
The service is also “on track” to divest its Bell TH-67 Creek training helicopters, with Airbus Helicopters UH-72As supporting initial-entry rotary wing training at army aviation center in Fort Rucker, Alabama, for the first time this week.
“The OH-58, it breaks my heart but we’ve got to do it,” says major general Michael Lundy, who heads the aviation centre of excellence at Fort Rucker, at conference in Washington DC today. “It’s the right thing to do and we will finish divestiture here during 2016.”