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SEOUL — Military officials should consider the values of military-owned and -occupied facilities when considering the overall costs and future savings associated with restructuring overseas bases, according to a report issued June 27 from Congress’ accountability office.

The report, the second in a series requested by the Senate Appropriations Committee, suggests that commanders in Europe and the Pacific consider the “residual value” of the land and buildings that make up overseas bases when estimating how much overall military transformation will cost and save taxpayers, the report from the Government Accountability Office stated.

“We believe that, without fully explaining the challenges commands experience in obtaining residual values for properties being returned to host nations or the implications, if any, for U.S. funding requirements, Congress and other users of the plans do not have a complete understanding of the potential impacts and limitations of residual value on future funding levels,” the report stated.

Pentagon officials say that using these values to estimate future savings and costs is unreliable, because those values “cannot be readily predicted,” according to the report.

The report praised military leaders in Europe and the Pacific — including U.S. Forces Korea officials — for providing ample information on plans to downsize and relocate military bases.

Last year, President Bush announced a worldwide military restructuring plan, the first of its kind since the Korean War. In South Korea, officials are overseeing a massive transformation of the U.S. military presence that has been in the works for years.

The plan consolidates most of the American strength here to the central part of the country. Dozens of small bases throughout the peninsula, including the headquarters operations at Yongsan Garrison, will shrink or close. Troop strength, now at more than 30,000, is meant to decrease to about 25,000.

Last year, the Senate Appropriations Committee expressed concern at the possibility that the Pentagon planned to build or refurbish buildings on overseas bases that might be closing, according to the report. The committee directed the GAO to monitor the transformation plans, including reviews of master plans for facilities changes in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific.

The report also noted that commands like USFK have not yet estimated future costs for the newly transformed overseas bases. Military officials responded that they are gathering this information for Congress, but that at this point it is “too voluminous and too detailed” to be included in responses to inquiries.

The GAO also asked that military officials consider environmental cleanup costs with the overall master plans.


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