Republican Senator Protests Overseas Base Construction, Army Times Reports, Progressive Bloggers Expected to Defend President
Senator wants to cut overseas base construction
By Rick Maze, Army Times
On the eve of the first efforts in Congress to write a 2011 military construction funding bill, a key Republican claims that the Obama administration seems to be shifting priorities to spend scarce construction money on improving facilities overseas instead of in the U.S.
“We are looking at $1 billion in foreign construction that we do not need,” said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, ranking Republican on the Senate appropriations subcommittee responsible for military construction funding.
Hutchison cited decisions to spend money in Europe, Korea and Guam, and vowed to try to get that money stripped from the construction budget.
She is not talking about shifting the money to construction on military bases in the U.S., but simply cutting the overall budget.
Her remarks come as the House military construction and veterans’ affairs appropriations subcommittee is preparing for a Wednesday morning meeting to approve its version of the 2011 construction budget.
It is expected to total between $14.2 billion, the amount sought by the Obama administration, and $14.6 billion, the amount approved by the House, as part of the 2011 defense authorization bill.
At the end of the Cold War, Hutchison said, the U.S. military adopted a basing strategy that favored putting U.S. troops and their families on domestic bases rather than overseas.
Construction projects have been approved by Congress to achieve that goal, she said.
“We have invested more than $14 billion to build housing, training and deployment capabilities at major military installations, and we have proved we can best train and deploy from the United States,” she said.
In the 2011 budget, Hutchison said the Defense Department is asking for “expensive and in some cases duplicative” construction projects that often are more costly than building in the U.S. and create construction jobs overseas rather than at home.
Training restrictions also often make overseas bases less useful, and local limitations on travel can make deploying forces from overseas bases more complicated, she added.
“Merely having our troops forward deployed is no guarantee that they will be available when and where we need them,” she said. “Instead of breaking ground on military projects abroad and advancing the department’s new goal of building partnership capability, we should be building American infrastructure. We need to build up bases in our country.”
Hutchison is pressing the Defense Department for a better explanation of the 2011 construction budget request, but so far she has “not been able to receive anything that would show why we would make such a huge investment in these foreign bases.”