Jun 30 2005

SHELBY STATEMENT BEFORE BRAC COMMISSION

ATLANTA, GA -- U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-AL), as head of the Alabama delegation in the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, testified before the BRAC Commission during today’s hearing in Atlanta. After providing opening remarks, Senator Shelby focused on two aspects of the Department of Defense’s recommendations. He was then followed by remarks from Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), representatives from Alabama’s base communities, and Governor Bob Riley (R-AL). Each of the presenters at the hearing devoted their time to different issues to ensure that Alabama’s military priorities were clearly articulated to the Commission. Senator Shelby’s statement, as prepared, is below:

“I would like to thank the Commissioners for being here today to further examine the important role Alabama's military installations play in our national security. I am joined today by Senator Sessions, Congressmen Cramer, Everett, Bachus, and Rogers, Governor Riley, mayors, state officials, and elected and appointed community leaders from Alabama's military base communities.”

“Overall, the BRAC recommendations were favorable for Alabama, and we appreciate the Department of Defense recognizing and reinforcing Alabama's contributions to our nation's defense.”

“Alabama is the heart of the Army's extensive missile and space research and development (R&D) programs.

It is home to Army Aviation, provides the full spectrum of Air Force education initiatives, and maintains every tracked vehicle in the Army inventory. Alabama has an unsurpassed network of universities, research facilities, and industrial expertise not duplicated anywhere else in the United States. Every major defense and aerospace technology company is present in Alabama. Alabama provides worldwide leadership in missile technology, launch capabilities, and aviation R&D. Alabama represents a critical mass of unique assets and capabilities essential to protecting our nation's security interests, and its strategic position is critical to our national defense.”

“We were pleased with the majority of the BRAC recommendations. Overall, Alabama will increase in both missions and personnel with the addition of:

  • The Army Materiel Command;
  • Headquarters for the Space and Missile Defense Command;
  • Extensive Missile Defense Agency missions;
  • The Aviation Logistics School;
  • And an addition of both C-130s and
  • F-16s for our National Guard”

“The recommendations increase efficiency, support consolidation, and realign the force to support research, development, and training in ways that will enhance our military. I am pleased to see DoD has recognized Alabama's bases' role in our national security.”

“However, there are five recommendations we respectfully ask you to reexamine.”

“We believe that the recommendations in these areas either deviated substantially from DoD's military value criteria or that the issues were not properly assessed, resulting in flawed recommendations. As Alabama continues its testimony today, I urge the Commission to further investigate these matters.”

“Today you will hear not only from me about the BRAC recommendations, but from Senator Sessions, a variety of community leaders, as well as Governor Riley. Further, we have included the testimony from Alabama's Congressmen in your package. I will now briefly address two of the five issues we would like the BRAC Commission to reconsider.”

“First, Fort Rucker, already home to Army and Air Force rotary wing training is slated to receive enlisted aviation training as well. This consolidation makes sense. We fight jointly - we must train jointly and I fully support this recommendation.”

“However, one piece of the rotary wing puzzle is missing. Navy rotary wing training was not included in the consolidation. The Army and Air Force have been successfully training together for 30 years. It makes perfect sense to train all three Services at the same location. In a warfighting environment that is becoming ever more joint, in a future filled with common airframes, shared services, and dual-hatted commanders, the Navy's helicopter training should be co-located with the Army and Air Force at Fort Rucker.”

“The Navy will argue that their training is unique, because it is necessary for Navy aviators to train over water and replicate landing on carriers. The Navy will contend that Whiting Field should remain as their site for rotary training. However, the Navy overlooks these facts:”

“Fort Rucker's rotary training already meets or exceeds all of the Navy's requirements for over water training. Fort Rucker is only 30 minutes from the water and trains Army, Air Force, and foreign countries' pilots in over-water survival training and provides "dunker" training for simulating in-water crashes. Every aspect of Navy rotary training can be accomplished at Fort Rucker.”

“Fort Rucker's training airspace is the size of South Carolina.”

“Fort Rucker is rated number 7 in military value among all Army training installations and higher than Whiting Field in 6 of 7 “military value” criteria.”

“Fort Rucker has every simulator and training device necessary to train aviators of all Services, while Whiting Field's simulation assets are already overextended.”

“With the capacity to easily expand to host Navy rotary training, it is apparent that this consolidation would be both cost-effective, saving DoD approximately $100 million dollars, and synergistic. It just makes good sense to consolidate all three Services' rotary flight training, and I ask the Commission to consider relocating the Navy rotary wing pilot training to Fort Rucker.”

“The second issue I wish to address is consolidation of resources. In many cases, consolidation saves money and eliminates duplicative services, but it does not make sense in every situation.”

“Many aspects of national security operations need to be redundant - sustained in several geographic areas or by multiple commands. If one goes down, another can seamlessly replace it.”

“That is why DoD's recommendation to combine the Operations and Sustainment Systems Group (OSSG), located at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, with other information technology assets into a new information systems R&D center at Hanscom Air Force Base is perplexing. This appears to be a simple consolidation of R&D information system functions at one location. However, that is not the case.”

“The underlying flaw in this recommendation is that the OSSG has a 24/7 operations and sustainment mission for Air Force, DoD, and joint information technology systems. It is not an R&D group. The OSSG is the sole agency overseeing the operations and sustainment of Air Force IT missions.”

“The OSSG is co-located at Maxwell-Gunter with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) - the organization that is similarly responsible for the operational side of DoD IT networks. The operational expertise that exists in these two organizations and their associated contract workforce could not be realistically duplicated, hired, or replaced in a timely manner. Its loss would result in a direct reduction of support to our combat forces during a time of war.”

“If the OSSG were moved to Hanscom, all of its operational functions would have to be reconstituted, resulting in significant additional costs with no efficiency or synergistic gains. Additionally, the existing relationship between OSSG and DISA would be destroyed.”

“As you listen to our presentation today I ask that you consider the following:

  • Does this recommendation fit the BRAC concept of "Centers of Excellence" or meet the BRAC criteria?
  • Does it increase military value or decrease risk for the warfighter?
  • Does it increase the ability to operate jointly?
  • Does the relocation save money?”

“I support consolidation - when it makes sense. However, moving the OSSG to Hanscom does not appear to provide cost savings or any synergistic advantage. According to a COBRA model that used current endstrength and contractor data, it would actually cost $413 million over 20 years to reproduce the OSSG mission at Hanscom. It is clear that in this instance, consolidation does not make sense. I ask the Commission to consider amending DoD's recommendation so that the OSSG remains at Maxwell Gunter.”

“The speed and intensity of modern war means that the United States will not have time to leisurely build up forces or construct new bases in the future, as we have in the past. Therefore, we need to ensure that the decisions made today do not adversely affect the way we fight tomorrow.”

“Again, I would like to thank the Commission for this opportunity to discuss the role Alabama's installations play in our nation's defense and the impact of the BRAC recommendations. Thank you.”

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