US military base closures, cuts hit cities

military budget cuts

“Even if we were to return to the funding levels we’ve had in recent years, we cannot continue to sustain viable operations in all 56 armories across the state,” Bunting said. “This is a challenging time requiring difficult choices.”

Kan. National Guard to close 18 armories

By John Milburn – The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Nov 25, 2009 14:43:08 EST

TOPEKA, Kan. — The latest round of state budget cuts have prompted the head of Kansas’ National Guard to do his own version of base realignment and closure.

Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting plans to close 18 of the state’s 56 National Guard armories. The moves will save nearly $157,000 in the fiscal year that ends June 30, and more than $260,000 in the following year.

“Even if we were to return to the funding levels we’ve had in recent years, we cannot continue to sustain viable operations in all 56 armories across the state,” Bunting said. “This is a challenging time requiring difficult choices.”

Bunting, the state’s adjutant general, won’t announce which armories will close until December, giving time to meet with communities and notify National Guard members. He has been operating the Guard’s armories with only 65 percent of the money necessary to keep them functioning for some time, he said.

The changes mean that 19 full-time National Guard soldiers will be reassigned to other armories, while 678 soldiers will be forced to go to other locations for regular drills. The closures and consolidation of people and equipment is expected to be complete by June 30, 2010.

The changes only affect Army National Guard facilities and not any of the Air National Guard locations at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Forbes Field in Topeka or Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range in Salina.

The adjutant general said that it isn’t likely that any of the armories would be reopened in the coming years as state revenues rebound and that additional closures and consolidations may be required. He gave similar statements to legislators when testifying in October during hearings.

“They will only be done as these were, after careful consideration of the impact of our mission, public safety capabilities and long-term sustainability,” Bunting said.

Pentagon facing 2010 budget cuts

With warnings coming from the Obama administration of a 2010 defense budget that will have only a modest $14 billion increase over current funding, lawmakers are coming to realize that the Defense Department’s long-range personnel and weapons programs are unsustainable.

Something has to give, and the likelihood is that it will be a combination of reigning in spending on personnel programs — including the possibility of smaller military and civilian pay raises — and a mix of cancellations, reductions and revisions in weapons programs, according to two congressional experts on the defense budget who testified Wednesday before the House Budget Committee.

The Obama White House is not expected to deliver a detailed 2010 federal budget to Congress until April, but a blueprint drawn up by the Office of Management and Budget proposes a 2010 defense budget of about $527 billion, or 8 percent more than the current budget. That does not include supplemental funding for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An 8 percent increase might seem large at a time of widespread economic crisis in the U.S., but the $14 billion increase falls far short of the $584 billion budget drawn up last fall by the Joint Chiefs in what has become more of a wish list than a formal budget plan.

Stephen Daggett, a defense policy and budget specialist with the Congressional Research Service, said it is hard for some people to understand how the defense budget can be short of money given dramatic increases over the years.

“CRS’s analysis, quite bluntly, is that the budget seems tight because the cost of almost everything we have been doing in defense has been accelerating upward too fast even for growing budgets to keep up,” he said.

Personnel expenses, he said, are a prime example. After adjusting for inflation, the average cost of an active-duty service member is 45 percent higher today than in 1998, he said. And, he added, that doesn’t even include health care costs, which have grown by an average of 7 percent annually. In the defense budget, health care costs are funded out of operation and maintenance accounts, not personnel accounts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *