ARLINGTON, Va. — Roughly one-fourth of the U.S. military’s infrastructure could be on the chopping block as leaders gear up for another round of base closures and realignments, a defense analyst said.

“[Defense Secretary Donald H.] Rumsfeld has told associates he wants to shutter 25 percent of military base capacity in a single round of base closures scheduled to take place in 2005,” wrote Loren Thompson of the public policy research organization Lexington Institute in a one-page position paper.

“But cutting a quarter of capacity might mean closing over a hundred of the 425 bases still scattered across the nation, and few states would be left unscathed.”

BRAC, the Base Realignment and Closure process, has no effect on overseas bases.

But overseas installations, especially those in Europe, are going through their own restructuring process, as Marine Gen. James L. Jones, the U.S. military commander for Europe, works to diminish and move the footprint of U.S. forces in Europe.

By law, Rumsfeld must submit by May 2005 a list of bases to be closed or realigned to the independent Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

It’s a list that is nowhere near complete, said Pentagon spokesman Glenn Flood.

“We’re not going into BRAC ’05 with a preset number. We’ve just started the internal deliberation process and review of all bases.”

Possible closure might not mean an entire base, but could be office space defense department employees use in the suburbs of Washington, Flood said, citing an example.

The 2005 BRAC round would be the fifth following closures in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995. And according to Thompson, if it happens, would be the largest.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that an unnamed Pentagon official confirmed Thompson’s calculation, and that under his BRAC plan, Rumsfeld wants to close one-third of Army posts, one-quarter of Air Force bases and a smaller fraction of Marine Corps and Navy bases.

But it’s a plan that could politically backfire if the military’s leaders try too much too fast, Thompson said.

“Congress hates to close bases,” Thompson said in an interview. “Rumsfeld’s goals are laudable, and it needs to be done. Having said that, they will have political problems of they are going to try to do too many bases at once.”

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