Troops will have needs met stateside, base panel says
WASHINGTON — Defense officials have pledged that troops being relocated to U.S. bases from overseas centers won’t move until things such as training facilities and troop housing are in place, members of an overseas basing committee said Monday.
Members of the Commission on Review of Overseas Military Facility Structure have issued repeated warnings over the last few months that the massive move of overseas troops back home could be disastrous if the infrastructure is not in place to handle them.
But retired Gen. Pete Taylor, a member of the commission, testified that defense officials had promised to time the moves carefully.
“They assured us they have a ‘go, no-go’ scenario they think is going to work,” he told members of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
“That’s our greatest concern, that we do this at the right time. We want to make sure that the forces that remain there have adequate infrastructure to take care of them until they leave, and … that someone will be handling it when they arrive.”
Still, members of the overseas commission said they have serious concerns about the pace of the move. Details such as exactly who will move and where they’ll go also still need to be worked out.
Those commission members, who met with defense officials on before Monday’s BRAC meeting, said about 61,000 troops in Europe and the Pacific are expected to be moved back as the military reduces its presence overseas.
Meanwhile, the BRAC commission is reviewing defense department recommendations to reduce the number of U.S. bases, to save money and realign troops for quicker, more efficient deployments.
Overseas commission chairman Al Cornella said Congressional officials must carefully watch both processes simultaneously to ensure that the moves actually save money and that troops’ quality of life isn’t compromised.