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ARLINGTON, Va. — Overseas installations will be on the table when Defense Department officials discuss base closures in the coming year, according to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Rumsfeld answered an emphatic “yes” when asked whether facilities outside the United States might be part of the fifth round of base realignments and closures, or BRAC, in 2005.

“There will be bases outside the United States that will be addressed, energetically and thoughtfully,” Rumsfeld said.

The Pentagon has gone through four previous BRAC rounds, in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995, during which defense officials picked 97 major domestic bases for closure, 55 major bases for realignment and 235 minor installations to be either closed or realigned.

Stating that excess infrastructure is costing the Defense Department untold billions that could be better spent on modernization, Rumsfeld wanted to do a fifth BRAC in 2002. But Congress put off the politically painful process until 2005.

On Friday, Raymond DuBois, the deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, told reporters that Rumsfeld intends to cut as much in the fifth BRAC as was cut in all four previous rounds.

“All installations are on the table,” DuBois said.

On Monday, Rumsfeld confirmed that “all installations” includes overseas.

“Roughly the same set of issues exist overseas that exist [in the United States],” Rumsfeld said. “We have a base structure that does not really fit the 21st century.”

Rumsfeld did not offer specifics about which overseas bases might be on the chopping block, but he did indicate that facilities in both Europe and the Pacific Rim would be part of the discussion.

“We intend to work with our NATO friends and allies and our friends in the Pacific to adjust our footprint in a way that makes sense for the future,” he said.


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