Unfortunately I missed a phone call from Rep. Norm Dicks before I filed my story for today’s paper on cost overruns that limited the Pentagon’s savings from the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
That BRAC round matters to the military community in the South Sound because it led to the merger of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, resulting in Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The Pentagon expected to save $2.3 billion by combining 26 installations into 12 joint bases in that BRAC effort. Instead, it’s likely to save $249 million.
Dicks, D-Belfair, said he is “not troubled” by the Government Accountability Office report that drew attention to the reduced savings the Defense Department likely will achieve.
“The most important thing is to have these services operating in a joint environment,” said Dicks, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense. “There will be savings over time.”
Dicks, furthermore, said combing Lewis and McChord solidified the military’s future in the region. The base has a fleet of more than 50 C-17 Globemaster IIIs that can deliver troops and supplies all over the world. That fleet sits next to 35,000 soldiers.
“This is the most significant defense installation on the West Coast,” Dicks said. “We’re going to be one of the most important bases in the country.”