Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/09/1999 04:30 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 21 - MILITARY BASE REALIGNMENT/CLOSURE ACTIONS                                                                              
CHAIR MURKOWSKI announced the first order of business would be                                                                  
House Joint Resolution No. 21, relating to new evaluation and                                                                   
selection criteria for military base realignment and closure                                                                    
Number 037                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor,                                                                 
explained that HJR 21 focuses on recommendations to Congress about                                                              
future rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).  It is a                                                                  
by-product of efforts with the task force of military bases in                                                                  
Alaska last year, and there is a companion resolution in the Senate                                                             
[sponsored by Senator Tim Kelly, who along with Representative                                                                  
Mulder co-chairs the legislature's Joint Committee on Military                                                                  
Bases].  Representative Mulder read from the sponsor statement,                                                                 
with comments, as follows:                                                                                                      
     This resolution asks the leaders of the federal government to                                                              
     reform the selection and evaluation criteria used in any                                                                   
     future military base closure actions.  Previous BRAC                                                                       
     commissions allowed each of the military services to develop                                                               
     categories for its own bases and then evaluate and rank their                                                              
     bases, applying criteria established by the Department of                                                                  
     Defense and Congress.  Under these single-service evaluations,                                                             
     the concerns of individual services often overshadowed total                                                               
     force considerations.                                                                                                      
     This process also seriously shortchanged Alaska's bases.                                                                   
     Strategic location and established Army-Air Force                                                                          
     compatibility, our bases' strongest points, were not fully                                                                 
     recognized, while their high cost in relation to other bases,                                                              
     which is, by the way, our weakest point, was overemphasized.                                                               
     Consequently, many of Alaska's bases did not score very well                                                               
     under the old categorization or ranking.                                                                                   
     House Joint Resolution 21 calls for the President, the                                                                     
     Secretary of Defense and Congress to establish Joint                                                                       
     Cross-Service Groups this year to study the issues which shape                                                             
     our Armed Forces in the twenty-first century:  power                                                                       
     projection and deployment, joint training, joint operations                                                                
     and total force considerations.  These Joint Cross-Service                                                                 
     Groups will then develop a new evaluation and selection                                                                    
     criteria and procedures for future BRAC commissions to ensure                                                              
     that total force and power projection factors receive                                                                      
     increased consideration in future base closure decisions.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE MULDER told members that he and Representative                                                                   
Phillips had the privilege of visiting with the Secretary of                                                                    
Defense in Alaska a couple of weeks before; they had discussed this                                                             
very point, which the Secretary of Defense had believed to be                                                                   
pertinent.  Representative Mulder pointed out that the Secretary of                                                             
Defense is from Maine, a state with considerations similar to                                                                   
Alaska's.  For example, Maine has high costs, while strategic                                                                   
location and coordination of effort are important to them.                                                                      
Representative Mulder said Chris Nelson could answer questions                                                                  
about the BRAC process.                                                                                                         
Number 111                                                                                                                      
CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked whether Representative Mulder is looking for                                                              
the new Joint Cross-Services Group to come up with brand-new                                                                    
criteria, including those stated in HJR 21, or whether it is an                                                                 
add-on to criteria used in previous realignments.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE MULDER said the categorizations need to be                                                                       
re-prioritized but also somewhat refocused.  The highest criteria                                                               
in the past has been cost, the state's weakest consideration.  To                                                               
his knowledge, a total force concept hasn't been fully utilized as                                                              
a criteria.  He deferred to Mr. Nelson for a more thorough answer.                                                              
Number 134                                                                                                                      
CHRIS NELSON, Staff to Senator Tim Kelly; and Staff Director, Joint                                                             
Committee on Military Bases in Alaska, Alaska State Legislature,                                                                
explained that the idea of the Joint Cross-Service Groups was                                                                   
recommended by the 1993 BRAC Commission.  Within the overall                                                                    
framework of the BRAC structure, from the "BRAC rounds" in 1991,                                                                
1993 and 1995, there have been adjustments based on their                                                                       
experiences.  The 1993 BRAC Commission said that in the next round,                                                             
[the Department of Defense] should look at some areas, primarily in                                                             
the support arena, where the services could consolidate and save                                                                
money; examples include undergraduate flight training, depots and                                                               
laboratories.  The Joint Cross-Service Groups met on each of these                                                              
categories and came up with recommendations, some of which were                                                                 
adopted by the 1995 BRAC Commission.                                                                                            
MR. NELSON pointed out that when Fort Richardson is compared only                                                               
to other Army maneuver bases, it cannot now get credit for the                                                                  
joint mobility complex, the most modern, well-thought-out power                                                                 
projection facility in the world, to send soldiers to combat areas                                                              
overseas; this is because it sits on the Elmendorf Air Force Base                                                               
half of the reservation.  The Army has no way in its evaluation                                                                 
system to weight that as an asset for Fort Richardson, yet no other                                                             
base in the Army comes close to having a facility of deployment and                                                             
power projection facility that modern.  Mr. Nelson stated, "That's                                                              
why we're talking about total force considerations and trying to                                                                
build some criteria, so that those things will get noticed."                                                                    
MR. NELSON said right now there are only two areas where joint                                                                  
considerations enter into the BRAC process.  After the services                                                                 
come up with their lists and evaluations of bases, then the                                                                     
regional Commander in Chief (CINC) for Alaska, which would be the                                                               
Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC), looks at it and offers                                                                   
input; then the Secretary of Defense himself looks at it.  Those                                                                
are the two high-echelon reviews of total force considerations.                                                                 
MR. NELSON concluded:  "What we're asking for is that you begin the                                                             
process, looking at total force consideration.  Total force should                                                              
be the building block that we're looking at all future BRAC actions                                                             
on.  We're ten years past the end of the Cold War.  We have                                                                     
changed, in this period of time, from a forward-deployed force                                                                  
based primarily overseas to a power projection force based within                                                               
our own borders.  And when we talk about the force structure-base                                                               
structure interaction, you say, 'Well, we've reduced the force                                                                  
structure, so we need to reduce the base structure.'  That's true                                                               
as far as it goes.  But we have to look at the base structure,                                                                  
because we haven't changed our base structure to reflect the fact                                                               
that we're now a power projection force. ... Previous BRAC rounds                                                               
in 1991, '93, '95 did not do that. ... That's where we're trying to                                                             
go on this."                                                                                                                    
Number 193                                                                                                                      
CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked whether the idea in HJR 21 is unique to                                                                   
MR. NELSON indicated Alaska would be the first, but he was sure                                                                 
there would be support from elsewhere.  He noted that some states                                                               
would not evaluate as well if they look at total force; those                                                                   
states prefer that the system remain as it is, as high operating                                                                
costs in Alaska would put Alaska bases lower on the ladder.  Alaska                                                             
has been shortchanged in the analyses used in the prior BRAC                                                                    
rounds.  Mr. Nelson concluded, "We're saying that if there is a                                                                 
BRAC 2001, it has to look at the base structure of the total force,                                                             
not the base structure of the individual service."                                                                              
Number 216                                                                                                                      
PHILLIP OATES, Brigadier General, Adjutant General/Commissioner                                                                 
Designee, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, came forward                                                             
to testify.  He told members:                                                                                                   
     I would like to applaud the resolution.  In fact, it's so                                                                  
     good, I wish I'd written it myself; it's truly at the graduate                                                             
     level. ... It argues exactly what our country needs, not just                                                              
     a parochial argument for Alaska.  Our country needs to think                                                               
     in terms of joint capabilities that include both the active                                                                
     and the reserve components, and the guard.  And by supporting                                                              
     this resolution, we are providing a very, very good model to                                                               
     the Secretary of Defense when the BRAC process comes.                                                                      
     In our meeting with the Secretary of Defense, when he came to                                                              
     Alaska, he was very convincing in his argument that BRAC will                                                              
     come sometime in the future.  He talked about the impact on                                                                
     communities, and we sat and listened to him - ...                                                                          
     Representative Mulder, Representative Phillips - and he talked                                                             
     about the need for adjusting the impact on rural communities.                                                              
     However, we also talked about the need to ... do things that                                                               
     were most effective for our Armed Services.  And this does                                                                 
     what is most effective for our Armed Services, and oh, by the                                                              
     way, recognizes the strengths that Alaska has to offer.  So,                                                               
     I applaud this resolution.                                                                                                 
Number 240                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER made a motion to move HJR 21 out of committee                                                             
with individual recommendations and the attached zero fiscal note.                                                              
There being no objection, HJR 21 moved from the House Special                                                                   
Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                                    

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