Bush budget calls for $430.3M for construction at U.S. facilities in Europe
February 11, 2005
STUTTGART, Germany — President Bush is asking for $430.3 million in military construction funds for Europe in 2006, mostly for housing and other projects at U.S. bases expected to be around for years.
Much like the 2005 construction budget, the largest amounts of funding are slated for Army facilities in Grafenwöhr, Germany, and air bases in Ramstein, Germany, and Lakenheath, England. A $42 million operations and technology center at the National Security Agency at Menwith Hill, England, has also been requested.
Most of the rest of the funds are for other bases that military officials say fit in with the military’s long-range plan to become more responsive to security needs in Africa and the Middle East, such as the air base at Incirlik, Turkey, and Naval Station Rota, Spain.
The spending proposals also have some hurdles to clear before they become law, according to Tom Roberts, EUCOM’s legislative affairs specialist.
Marine Gen. James L. Jones, the EUCOM commander, is scheduled to testify before Congress in March as to the necessity and long-range value of the projects. Both the Senate and House of Representatives will scrutinize the proposal and work out any changes in their respective committees.
“They’re going to be looking for assurances from Gen. Jones that the money we’re asking for in military construction is going to be spent on things that are going to be around for a while,” Roberts said.
Some of the projects in the new budget are large, such as ongoing establishment of Grafenwöhr as the U.S. military’s premier training site for American troops and those from allied nations. This year, $126.4 million is scheduled to be spent at the vast site, with another $84 million requested for next year.
Others requests are smaller, such as $12 million for a new fire station at Lajes Field in the Azores, Portugal.
“The [current facility] is out-of-date,” Col. Barbara Jacobi, commander of the 65th Air Base Wing, said in an e-mailed response. “It’s a converted aircraft hangar, and it doesn’t support the size of our half-million-dollar vehicles. Secondly, it will relocate the facility closer to where it’s needed.”
The proposed fire station would be built in a more central location to the military air base and commercial airport, which share the airstrip.
Bush’s $430.3 million request for 2006 is slightly more than the $427.4 million he asked for in this year’s budget, of which $396.3 million was approved by Congress.
The same process must be followed this year.
“[Members of Congress] have a constitutional duty to do some fact-finding on budget requests,” Roberts said. “It’s a joint effort. The president submits the budget, but there is no [money] unless the House and Senate pass the same bill, and the president gets involved again by signing it.”
Roberts said that Congress typically approves the vast majority of the president’s military construction requests. The bill is normally signed in September.
No construction funding was requested for many of the older Army bases in Germany, which could be vacated in coming years. The Army has previously announced that large units such as the Würzburg-based 1st Infantry Division and Wiesbaden-based 1st Armored Division will eventually be moved to the United States.
Many of those bases, however, would be seeing housing upgrades in coming years that would be paid for as part of the Pentagon’s separate Sustainment, Restoration and Maintenance budget, officials from the U.S. European Command said earlier this week.