A 4-letter word is being whispered in hushed tones across many military communities these days: “BRAC.” No, this isn’t a new texting acronym or swear word. Instead, BRAC is “Base Realignment and Closure”, a federal process that closes military bases. The last round of BRAC was in 2005, and previous rounds were in 1995, 1993, 1991, and 1988. The consequences of a BRAC round can be huge – a total of 350 installations were closed across the 5 rounds of BRAC.
Now, the Trump Administration is asking Congress to authorize another round of BRAC for 2021. This hasn’t yet been authorized by Congress, but the suggestion alone has set off alarm bells in military communities. Bases are huge economic engines – they provide thousands of jobs and billions of dollars for local economies. Abrupt closure can decimate a community. It wasn’t that long ago that San Antonio was shocked by the closures of Brooks and Kelly Air Force Bases in previous rounds of BRAC.
The Department of Defense initially planned for another round of BRAC in 2015, but Congressional resistance killed the idea. Now, this resistance may be melting away – changes to the BRAC process may give Congress more input, and the Department of Defense’s continued insistence that it wants a BRAC is making a big impression.
There are some things we can do as a state to mitigate the risk of a base closure, should another round of BRAC be authorized. The first is funding Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant Program, or DEAAG – which we did to the tune of $20,000,000. Under the program, Texas Military Preparedness Commission provides local communities with funds for infrastructure projects that assist a base or facilitate the transition of a closed base. These projects range from replacing air traffic control towers to purchasing easements that prevent encroachment of development near base land.
As a Marine, and the father and brother of Marines, Senator Uresti works constantly with members of the Senate and House who have served. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find better advocates for our bases, military, and Veterans than members of the Senate and House who have served their country admirably, and now continue to do so as legislators. As a member of the Senate Veteran Affairs & Border Security Committee, Senator Uresti will work with the Chair and members of the committee in a bi-partisan way to ensure our state proactively positions our bases in a strong manner for BRAC, and continues our ranking as the number one state for our military and our Veterans. Semper Fi!