BRAC Early Bird 15 July 2005 Page: 2 of 18
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The recommendations are under consideration
by commissioners, who can vote to add or
remove installations from the list.
In their July 5 letter to BRAC Chairman
Anthony Principi, Armed Services Committee
Chairman Duncan Hunter (CA) and Rep. Roscoe
Bartlett (MD), the panel's projection forces
subcommittee chairman, express concern that
the Navy analysis behind the decision to close
New London "used unacceptable assumptions
about the future nuclear attack submarine force."
Without the facility, the Navy would be locked
"into an artificially low force level and damage
the national security of the United States," the
lawmakers write. For that reason, Principi and
fellow commissioners should reject the
Pentagon's recommendation for the submarine
base, the duo argues.
"The BRAC recommendation to close SUBASE
New London does not conform to the Navy's
true force needs," the letter states. "Closing New
London will tie the SSN [nuclear attack
submarine] force to an insufficient force level
and destroy the world's best submarine base in
exchange for little or no savings."
Hunter and Bartlett take issue with May 17
testimony before Congress by Chief of Naval
Operations Adm. Vern Clark on the number of
SSNs the Navy will require in the future. Clark
said the future force level will be in the low 40s,
while the lawmakers maintain that number
would not "safely address the growing undersea
warfare threats facing the United States."
"Future defense requirements demand higher
attack submarine numbers than those assumed
by the Navy during the 2005 BRAC process -- a
gross departure from earlier plans," the
lawmakers write. "The last Quadrennial Defense
Review [in 2001] specified a minimum force
level of 55 SSNs necessary to fill the combatant
commanders' high-priority needs, with earlier
and subsequent studies consistently placing
acceptable SSN numbers well above 50."
The lawmakers also note recent testimony from
other top Navy officials who call for maintaining
the current SSN force level of 54, while
addressing concerns about a deficient number of
subs to handle all the combatant commanders'
needs. Further, a lower number of SSNs could
spell trouble for the service because industry
would not be able to produce new vessels at
affordable costs, according to the letter.
Hunter and Bartlett express optimism about new
technology programs, like the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency's "Tango
Bravo," that could allow the Navy to build
smaller, less expensive submarines.
"These advances would allow the Navy to buy
more SSNs with less funding, but closing
SUBASE New London would prevent the Navy
from exploiting potential gains, because the
service would lack the surge capacity to berth
and maintain additional vessels," the letter
In weighing the proposal to shut down New
London, the BRAC panel should consider
whether the move means a deviation from
recognized criteria for making such a decision,
the lawmakers tell Principi.
"As you know, the first criterion of the BRAC
process addresses the base's current and future
mission capabilities and the impact on
operational readiness of the total force of the
Department of Defense," the letter states.
"Another criterion focuses on the base's ability
to accommodate contingency, mobilization,
surge, and future total fore requirements at both
existing and potential receiving locations to
support operations and training."
BRAC Commission members have until
September to mull the Pentagon's proposals for
realigning or closing military installations.
The Defense Department says it
recommendations could save almost $50 billion
over 20 years. However, the Government
Accountability Office, in a report released
earlier this month, questioned the assumptions
defense officials used to come up with that
figure (Inside the Pentagon, July 7, p6).
BRAC Commission Early Bird
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United States. Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. BRAC Early Bird 15 July 2005, text, July 15, 2005; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc17657/m1/2/: accessed December 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.