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Panetta to push for new BRAC rounds

By The Mercury

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was expected Thursday to request two new rounds of military base closures as part of upcoming Pentagon budget cuts. That follows a Pentagon decision to cut the number of Army combat brigades from 45 to 32.

There was no immediate indication how those actions might affect Fort Riley.

“At this point in time, I really don’t know,” said John Armbrust, of the Governor’s Military Council.

The BRAC proposal was reported in the Army Times, which said Panetta would brief reporters Thursday afternoon. The Defense Department is expected to begin cutting $487 billion from projected spending over the next decade.

Legislation from Congress is necessary to close or consolidate military bases in the country. The first step is creating a Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC), which would study the issue and make recommendations.  The last BRAC took place in 2005.

Panetta is expected to seek one BRAC in 2013 and a second in 2015.

Ostensibly, reducing the total number of brigades will increase the size of the remaining brigades. It would ensure the combat capabilities of each brigade. Armbrust said that part is an important aspect.

Armbrust said it’s too early to tell whether Fort Riley might lose or gain troops if the BRACs take place. He said the community will have to work through the issue as it progresses.

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