Tester asks Department of Defense for update on overseas military bases

Great Falls Tribune

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., on Thursday called on the Department of Defense to update him on the implementation of his bipartisan law requiring the department to examine the nation's overseas military bases.

Tester previously worked with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, to pass legislation to save taxpayers money and strengthen military readiness by reassessing America's overseas military installations. The Tester-Hutchison law calls for the Defense Department to appoint an independent commission to review the military's overseas basing needs and their associated costs as a first step toward closing facilities that are no longer needed, according to a news release from Tester's office.

"We request an update on the status of this assessment and strongly urge you to expedite the completion of this report," Tester and Hutchison wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. "The assessment would provide a much-needed look at the current state of our overseas military facilities and determine the feasibility of closing or realigning those facilities."

Tester first asked the Defense Department last May to consider closing a number of Cold War-era military bases and installations on foreign soil — saving taxpayers billions of dollars. Tester said at the time that the United States operates 268 military installations in Germany, and 124 in Japan.

"Instead of calling for another costly round of domestic base closures, we believe the Department of Defense should take necessary steps to capture the significant savings that can be achieved by dramatically reducing our overseas military presence," Tester wrote in the earlier letter.