Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby on Friday successfully deflected a reporter’s question as to when DOD would act to eliminate excess infrastructure outside the bounds of BRAC by repeating multiple times that officials would prefer to pare down the department’s real estate portfolio through a base closure round.
“The preferred method is to work with the Congress and to get another round of BRAC,” Kirby said. The reporter asked Kirby to clarify recent statements by Defense Secretary and other top officials that DOD has authorities beyond BRAC to reduce its infrastructure, but the press secretary offered very little in terms of specifics.
“He does have some authorities in the law to allow him to do some restructuring on his own,” was as far as Kirby was willing to go.
When pressed as to when the Pentagon might be forced to rely on its authority to close or realign bases if Congress fails to permit a BRAC to go ahead, he emphasized that Hagel’s focus now is making the case to lawmakers to approve a new base closure round during the current round of budget hearings.
“They’ve [Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey] testified to two committees. They’ve got other hearings coming up, so it’s time now to have that debate, have that discussion, that conversation with the Congress, which is the way the secretary wants to pursue it,” Kirby said.