Tester and Hutchison introduce bill to examine closing overseas military bases

Senators say advanced military capabilities change needs of the modern military

(U.S. SENATE) – On the heels of their call for cuts to wasteful overseas military construction projects, U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) have introduced a bill requiring the U.S. government to examine the potential benefits and savings realized by closing outdated overseas military bases.

Tester and Hutchison’s legislation establishes a commission to scrutinize the necessity of the United States’ current overseas basing structure and report recommendations to the President and Congress.  It would be made up of eight members, all with significant experience in U.S. national security or foreign policy.

Modeled after a 2005 Overseas Basing Commission, the commission would re-address many issues in light of the nation’s current fiscal challenges, new military capabilities and evolving security threats.  The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has estimated that responsible overseas base closings could save taxpayers $8.5 billion through 2015.

“Decisions about our overseas military bases haven’t kept pace with today’s technology or our national security priorities,” Tester said.  “With our military’s advanced capabilities, it’s time for some responsible decisions about how best to secure our country while saving American taxpayers every penny we can.  As Montana families examine their bottom lines and the country works to cut spending, it makes perfect sense to give our outdated military bases and installations a closer look.”

“An Overseas Basing Commission is an important step towards identifying unnecessary spending on American bases in foreign countries,” Sen. Hutchison said. “With today’s historic levels of debt, we need to move quickly to identify ways that we can bring our military training capabilities home, create American jobs in military construction and save taxpayer dollars without sacrificing the security needs of U.S. forces and the American people.”

Tester in May asked the Defense Department to consider closing Cold War-era military bases and installations on foreign soil—a move that would save taxpayers billions of dollars.  Tester noted that the United States still operates 268 military installations in Germany and 124 in Japan.

On Tuesday, Tester and Hutchison wrote a letter to the joint committee for deficit reduction pushing the panel to significantly reduce spending on overseas military construction projects, saying that the Defense Department failed to properly analyze costs for numerous base projects.

“We believe that significant savings can be achieved by dramatically reducing our overseas military presence, halting associated overseas military construction and returning those forces to installations with adequate existing infrastructure in place in the United States,” Tester and Hutchison wrote.

Tester’s and Hutchison’s bill is online HERE.