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To Maximize Defense Funds, Congress Should Look at Closing and Realigning Military Bases


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Leaders in the business world often have to make painful decisions in order to meet long-term strategic goals and keep up with market trends.
For example, Sears Holdings announced earlier this year that it plans to close 150 unprofitable Sears and Kmart stores. If Sears Holdings attempted to keep these stores open, it would damage its ability to consolidate and remain competitive in the market.
The Department of Defense sometimes similarly recognizes where episodic reductions would benefit the military in the long term. But unlike Sears Holdings, Pentagon officials have comparatively little freedom to manage their own infrastructure due to legal restrictions imposed by Congress in 1977.
Congressional oversight has hindered the Pentagon’s ability to make strategic decisions about the military’s future and adapt to the evolving security environment. As a result, the Department of Defense is forced to keep open military bases that are no longer strategically significant.
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According to a 2016 Department of Defense report requested by Congress, the Air Force has 32 percent excess capacity, the Army has 33 percent excess capacity, and the Navy has 7 percent excess capacity.
In many cases, this excess infrastructure is deteriorating due to neglect and lack of use. An Army official recently testified before Congress that roughly 33,000 of its buildings are in poor or failing condition—nearly a quarter of all Army real estate.:snip:

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