Despite President Donald Trump promising to beef up the U.S. military, one Senator is seemingly in favor of shutting down military bases.
John McCain (R-Ariz.) has voiced that he is “seriously considering” closing what he believes are excess military bases. Also considering the same is Sen. Jack Reed, (D-R.I.). McCain, who is the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said during a defense budget hearing on Tuesday:
‘We need to talk about it, I think it has to be considered as all things should be on the table.’
Sen. McCain has been a long-time supporter for closing excess military bases. In 2001, he wrote an op-ed explaining the need for “streamlining, rightsizing, or downsizing.” He wrote that allowing excess bases to remain open was “wasteful spending.”
‘This is why we have introduced legislation (S. 397) to allow DOD to close excess military bases. Money saved means lives saved. It is essential that the Department of Defense and the Congress eliminate wasteful spending on low priority defense programs in order to provide our armed forces the tools they need to meet the complex threats of the future, including terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and information warfare. One place we must look is excess military facilities.’
According to Military Times, pentagon officials have stated 22 percent of the infrastructure they must maintain is more than they need. Furthermore, thanks to previous base closings since 1990, taxpayers have been saved $12 billion yearly. McCain echoed these sentiments in his op-ed.
‘The Defense Department estimates that the four previous rounds of base closures will produce $15 billion in net savings by 2001. Even more significant is that the recurring savings will be $6 billion each and every year thereafter. Authorizing two additional rounds of base closure in 2003 and 2005 to eliminate the excess capacity that still remains could save $3 billion each and every year once fully implemented. Both the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting Office (GAO) agree that closing excess bases could save enormous amounts of money. ‘
He also explained the significance of the burden on the Dept. of Defense.
‘This excess infrastructure burdens every service. DOD’s own figures show that by 2003 the Army will have reduced the personnel at its classroom training commands by 43 percent, while classroom space will have been reduced by only 7 percent. The Air Force will have reduced the number of fighters and other small aircraft by 53 percent since 1989, while the base structure for those aircraft will be only 35 percent smaller. The Navy will have 33 percent more hangars for its aircraft than it requires. The savings from streamlining this unneeded infrastructure would be real and substantial.’
One argument for closing excess bases would mean the savings could be passed on to the new defense budget. McCain’s budget proposal is a whopping $640-billion base defense budget. Federal law caps defense spending at $549 billion. Furthermore, with Trump’s promises of growing the military, it would require $80 billion in extra spending.
However, McCain will face strong opposition when it comes to base closings. Regardless of what Congress may think, Twitter users responded critically to the news.
‘@thehill try it and you will have the biggest fight you have ever seen buddy.’
@thehill try it and you will have the biggest fight you have ever seen buddy.
— Jo Trout (@lovemytrout) January 24, 2017
‘@thehill closing them they should be expanding them and start the draft’
@thehill closing them they should be expanding them and start the draft
— Karl Kerrn (@KerrnKarl) January 24, 2017
‘@thehill why aren’t we making bases great again instead of closing them, destroying communities that rely on them and killing jobs? #MAGA’
— News Puppy (@BreakingNewsPup) January 24, 2017
Featured image via Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla.