Base Closure Assistance
In his article, “Base Closure Planning,” in the
March-April 2004 issue, Lieutenant Colonel Leslie J. (Chip)
Pierce does a good job of covering many details of military
organizations in transition. It’s obvious that he’s
learned many lessons in drawdown. I’ve had command of
one unit during an inactivation and two installations during
a base realignment and closure (BRAC) process. I have a somewhat
different view on closures and realignments.
I agree with Chip’s comment in the box
on page 28, “If
the Army is serious about taking care of its soldiers [and
Department of the Army civilians] and their families, especially
during periods of turbulence and change, it must ensure a
smooth transition during base closure.” I believe that
in order to prove that the Army is serious about caring for
involved, special teams must be trained to provide command
and control of installations during a BRAC. These realignment
and closure teams must have the ability to do what is necessary
to close an installation regardless of what a parent organization
may say. They also must have the latitude to coordinate actions
with many organizations during a realignment.
Each team should include a BRAC commander, an environmental
expert, a property expert, a security expert, and a top-notch
personnel expert. This is all the expertise needed on a BRAC
team. The team would be assigned to a targeted BRAC installation
and would not leave until the closure or alignment was complete.
The merits of having teams that are trained to provide command
and control during the turmoil are obvious. Usually, the
first people to “jump ship” in the midst of closure are
the most marketable employees. Normally, these employees are
in critical positions and they understand how the personnel
system works. Thus, they manage to take care of themselves
and move out early, which can have a serious impact on the
closure process as a whole.
The realignment and closure teams would be trained to arrive
at the installation and immediately assume the duties of,
or provide transition for, key personnel who are preoccupied
taking care of their families and themselves. (By law, BRAC
is a 6-year process, although it can be executed in less
time.) The teams would become intimately familiar with property,
and people fairly quickly and would know how to take care
of Government personnel and their families during the process.
The teams would be trained to address many other details,
as handling violence in the workplace, theft, and mission
degradation, until closure or realignment.
With BRAC 05 possibly looming on the horizon, the Army must
quickly develop a strategy for taking care of the people
who have devoted their lives to supporting Army programs.
to take care of these people consistently and successfully
will result in failure of the Army as an organization.
LTC Thomas S. Schorr, Jr.
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