Obama administration: Military base closures still on table

Politico is reporting today that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is still describing base closures as “inevitable” despite bipartisan resistance in Congress.

In a speech in Monterey, Calif., on Monday, Panetta told members of the Association of Defense Communities that reviving the base realignment and closure process would come up again before long, as the Pentagon copes with a $487 billion reduction in budget growth over the coming decade.

“It’s an important debate that we have to have and, frankly, it’s not going away,” he said.

Most observers believe that Fort Drum would not be targeted by this kind of downsizing, but distrust of the process has been high since the mid-90s when the Pentagon abruptly reversed course and mothballed the Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

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19 Comments on “Obama administration: Military base closures still on table”

  1. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    There’s no doubt in my mind that a BRAC process is needed. But it should be exclusively for overseas bases. Otherwise, please stop with the spin that the Trillion dollar per year defense budget can’t possibly sustain a $48 Billion per year cut. These comments from Panetta are in fact spin as well. Nothing scares the populace more with regard to keeping the gravy train well lubricated than threatening jobs as a result of base closure. Toss out a tidbit every now and then to keep the charade in motion. It’s been going on for decades and is as predictable as the sun setting and rising.

    In real numbers these “cuts” basically equate to the 4-5% growth annually that the overall budget has enjoyed for years, including the past four years under the Obama administration. In other words what is being proposed is merely cutting the annual GROWTH of the budget and in reality does little to cut the bloat that already exists and is everywhere within the military/industrial/congressional complex.

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  2. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    The closing of Fort Drum would be unfortunate for this area. However, cuts in defense spending are needed.

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  3. Pete Klein says:

    Fascinating. No one wants to close bases and no one, especially the rich, wants their children to join the military.

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  4. mervel says:

    I think the game they play is to make these draconian predictions about their horrible cuts both for defense employment and for having a strong defense.

    The problem is we are doing the wrong things. It starts at the highest level. Why do we need a military that dwarfs China our largest world military challenger?

    What do we want our military to do? The role right now has very little to do with defending the United States.

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  5. tootightmike says:

    Cut the military budget in half, and re-route that money into something productive. A good economy, and an employed population will lead to real prosperity, and real security.

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  6. mervel says:

    I actually agree. Even with a 50% cut in our military budget we would have the largest military budget on the planet. That is how out of whack our spending is on the military.

    I think if you did that without thinking about what we wanted our military to really do however it could be really bad. Our military never re-designed its weapon systems after the cold war ended. The B-2 Bomber, ALL of our new military jets, the F-22 and the new Navy Jet, were designed to fight a cold war threat, largely in the European battlefield thwarting a Soviet invasion of Europe.

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  7. No! says:

    When cuts are made, make them real cuts and do not apply it *anywhere* else. Otherwise there won’t bee any *real* cuts in the federal budget.

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  8. mervel says:

    A large military in and of itself will lead us into more wars. Because like all large government organizations, they will seek to justify their existence, so instead of looking at a need a mission and a purpose and then filling that with our military. You start with a huge military, in search of a need a mission and a purpose.

    They will find a threat to justify their size.

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  9. Paul says:

    Amazing comments here. A smaller military? The size of ours is a pittance compared to where we need to be to deal with the threats we face. Look at the teeny tiny force we sent to the wars in the middle east. Big surprise that things didn’t work out well. It took 3 million US soldiers just to occupy Germany after WW2. Now we think we can do it in a place like Iraq or Afganistan with a pittance.

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  10. mervel says:

    Well then we must have the most inefficient military in the world. Why is it that we need to spend more than the entire world COMBINED on defense?

    We could easily cut our military spending by 50% and maintain a strong defense. We would STILL spend more than any other individual country in the world with a 50% cut in the military. What threats do we face? Give me break. We face no threats outside of China of any significance. China is a threat not to the US but to the East which they want to dominate. I think we should help Japan, Korea, Australia, Malaysia etc, defend against that, but it is their concern much more than it is ours.

    Iraq was militarily defeated in 3 weeks they were never a threat of any sort to the US. Germany was an actual threat that we defeated in an international coalition putting in at LEAST as much money and blood as the US.

    Why are we the only one’s who seem to be concerned with these “threats”?

    The fact is we fit these threats to justify the bloated size of our military.

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  11. Paul says:

    The world has changed. If you wait for a threat it is too late.

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  12. mervel says:


    But I think that we should really look at how we are spending our defense dollars. I am not against a strong defense or even a larger military in the sense of how many men and women are in the military. But that is not necessarily what we are spending our money on.

    I see an essentially knee jerk reaction to any comments about even reducing the rate of growth of our defense spending. Yet our spending so much more than any other countries spending, massively more, not just 20 or 30% more, but a thousand percent more than the nearest country. I just don’t understand that, it seems we need to back up and really re-look at what it means to defend our country.

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  13. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    “The world has changed. If you wait for a threat it is too late.”

    Seems we’ve heard this same rational before….Like when Truman put us on a permanent war footing and used the Soviet threat as the reasoning. Fast forward 75 years and we’re still budgeting nearly a third of our annual federal budget on the military/industrial/congressional complex. A good portion of which is stimulating the economies of nations overseas with our tax dollars. At least Fort Drum is an economic stimulus locally, actually is utilized killing the actual threats to our nation, etc. Why, exactly cannot South Korea defend itself? Great Britain? Germany (with the most prosperous economy in Europe)? Truth is this nation has paid a tremendous economic opportunity cost for defending many nations of this world who are now certainly able to do so on their own.

    And I think it’s safe to say that no one is suggesting we eliminate our military, but can anyone honestly say we should continue down our current path? Borrowing money from China to defend nations in the Pacific Theater from…China? Or defending Europe from…Russia?

    Given the actual threats that now exist, we could easily strip our military of much of its current largess and wasteful spending and still have the most dominate military presence in the history of the known world.

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  14. Paul says:

    Clapton, I don’t see anywhere in anyone’s comments that they would not agree with this?

    I was the only one that argued that our military was too small. I wasn’t talking about the budget I was specifically (like I said) talking about the size of our force. Boots on the ground is always necessary to win a war. That is why in my opinion we have lost 3 out of the last 4 wars we have been involved in. Not because of the soldiers (they performed above and well beyond, too many tours has ruined some kids) but because of Washington and a lack of support from the American people. We can argue all day about the necessity of the action but not the result. In today’s world we would not be able to hobble together a well trained force like we did in WWII, we just would never have time. China is not a threat? Just like Japan was never a threat.

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  15. Larry says:

    How much is enough? You need only look back to WW II to see the consequences of military weakness in international politics and on the battlefield. Like sharks sense blood in the water, our enemies sense weakness and are emboldened by it. It’s hard enough keeping them in check as it is. Too much ain’t enough.

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  16. Larry says:

    In WW II millions of Russians and Chinese died while we were ramping up to fight. We won’t get that kind of help again. Like most other preventative measures it is difficult to quantify the cost of being unprepared.

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  17. mervel says:

    I guess I wonder why other countries do not feel that they need to spend so much on defense?

    In the cold war days, yes the Soviet Union was spending less than us, but was not out of the park less; and they were producing a modern well equipped force that could reasonably challenge the US in a global war, not so today.

    Certainly we need more troops than we have now to occupy several countries for a decade, I do agree with Paul on that. We don’t need more troops to defeat most of our threats with two exceptions, China and North Korea. But our military defeated the Iraq military in around three weeks, Iraq was the strongest military in the entire middle east with the exception of Israel and Iran. But then again we have an all-volunteer army, that would have to certainly go by the wayside in any true conflict of national defense. Iraq and Afghanistan were not and are not wars of national defense they are strategic conflicts of choice.

    But permanent occupation does indeed take far more troops, just look at the experience of France or England in their occupations of India or North Africa, it was a large undertaking.

    Like I said no one seems to want to talk about what we want our military to do? The rest of the world is depending on us to foot the bill for world order and it is time that ended. Germany and France should be able to handle the military deterence of Russia. But then again they couldn’t even handle the genocide happening a couple of hundred miles away from Paris in the Balkans without the help of the US. Of course they all have free health care.

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  18. mervel says:

    We may simply be to poor to afford such an extravagant military. We are one of the poorer developed countries in the world as measured by the number and percentage of people living in poverty. Can we really make a humane argument that we need this much money for the military when we are this poor?

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  19. Mervel says:

    If North Korea with massive force invaded South Korea, I think we would have to seriously look at the draft.

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