Military base closures targeted in Trump budget - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Military base closures targeted in Trump budget

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – President Donald J. Trump’s budget proposal calls for a new round of military base closures in 2021, seeking to reap massive savings from unnecessary buildings and other infrastructure at Defense Department facilities across the U.S.

The plan, unveiled Tuesday as part of Trump’s spending plan for the 2018 fiscal year, once again prompts questions over the future of U.S. Army’s Fort Knox and Fort Campbell installations in Kentucky.

The Pentagon estimates that the best way to reduce its roughly 20 percent of “excess infrastructure capacity” is to shutter and reorganize facilities through the Base Realignment and Closure process, according to White House budget documents that predict such changes could result in at least $2 billion in annual savings by 2027.

The most recent “BRAC” round in 2005 spared Fort Knox but stripped the post south of Louisville of its signature Armor Center and School.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, did not specifically address the BRAC proposal in a prepared statement. But he noted that the budget plan put forth by the president is just the first step in a larger Congressional process.

“One of the initial steps in that process is typically for the president to send up a blueprint of his own, laying out his priorities as members continue to work through conversations here as well,” McConnell said. “While this is only the first step in the budget process, I will work with the delegation to protect essential Kentucky priorities in the final budget.”

Congress turned back efforts by the Defense Department for base closures during former President Barack Obama’s administration. In 2014, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, a Republican whose 2nd Congressional district includes Fort Knox, told WDRB News that another BRAC round was not needed, while a McConnell spokesman said it would be “harmful.”

The Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The state, through the Department of Military Affairs, is paying a consultant $366,000 to develop a strategy to help Kentucky maintain and grow its military presence ahead of a possible BRAC round.

Fort Knox has undergone a makeover since 2005, losing its tank training operations while gaining the headquarters of the Army’s Human Resources and Recruiting commands, among other additions.

“We would look forward to a BRAC, because I think Fort Knox would be a winner,” said Retired Maj. Gen. William Barron, who serves as CEO of the Knox Regional Development Alliance. The group advocates for the post and promotes its economic and military impact.

Barron said Fort Knox has room to expand, making it a good candidate to absorb troops and other Army operations if a consolidation occurs. He called Fort Campbell an “enduring installation” that is designed to support the 101st Airborne Division.

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