Military Airlift:

Savings Achievable by Eliminating Support Operations at Torrejon Air Base, Spain

NSIAD-97-96: Published: Apr 21, 1997. Publicly Released: Apr 21, 1997.

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GAO reviewed: (1) the future use of Torrejon Air Base in Spain for airlift operations; (2) the cost savings that would be realized if the Air Mobility Command's presence at that base was ended; and (3) alternatives the Air Mobility Command is considering to the current use of Torrejon Air Base.

GAO noted that: (1) the future use of Torrejon Air Base by the Air Mobility Command is questionable; (2) Department of Defense, State Department, and U.S. Embassy officials acknowledge that the government of Spain does not want the Command to use Torrejon Air Base to support future airlift missions; (3) the Spanish government suggested that the Command relocate its personnel stationed at Torrejon to another base in Spain; (4) although the Command did not relocate its civilian and military personnel, in July 1996 the U.S. Transportation Command terminated a planned fuel system upgrade at the base for which it had already spent $800,000 and reprogrammed the remaining $2.5 million for other needs; (5) discontinuing operations at Torrejon and eliminating both civilian and military positions would result in an annual savings of $515,000; (6) the Air Mobility Command could also save about $200,000 annually in operations and maintenance costs by discontinuing its operations at Torrejon and eliminating its civilian positions; (7) these savings would continue to accrue, at a minimum, until an alternative location is selected to fill the capacity viewed as lost by discontinuing operations at Torrejon; (8) the Command could save an additional $315,000 in military personnel costs if it eliminated the military positions from the force structure; (9) the Command has short-term alternatives to the use of Torrejon; (10) these alternatives include relying on the four key European bases (Mildenhall Air Base, England, Moron Air Base, Spain, and Rhein Main and Ramstein Air Bases, Germany) to the maximum extent possible and using other locations, as necessary; (11) additionally, the Command, in conjunction with officials from the U.S. Transportation Command and U.S. Air Forces, Europe, is considering three long-term alternatives to make the en route system capable of carrying out its peacetime and wartime missions and replace the capability provided by Torrejon; (12) these alternatives include adding limited capability to Rota Naval Air Station and reopening and enhancing Zaragoza Air Base, Spain, significantly enhancing Rota Naval Air Station, Spain, and adding limited capability to Fairford Air Base, England, and reopening and enhancing Zaragoza and adding limited capability to Fairford; (13) however, the Spanish government, which has final approval over all activities at the bases in Spain, delayed the approval of site surveys at Rota Naval Air Station and Zaragoza because of political issues; and (14) as of April 1997, the Air Force had completed the site survey at Rota Naval Air Station but had not completed the survey at Zaragoza Air Base.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD commented on the report and stated that the recommendation merely confirmed an action it already intended to perform; therefore, DOD considers this a closed matter and no notification to Congress or OMB is required.

    Recommendation: Given the political sensitivities and the potential savings if the Air Mobility Command ceases operations at the base, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, Air Mobility Command, to devise a plan to eliminate in a timely manner its military support operations at Torrejon Air Base.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD commented on the report and stated that the recommendation merely confirmed an action it already intended to perform; therefore, DOD considers this a closed matter and no notification to Congress or OMB is required.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should use this plan, if necessary, as part of a strategy in negotiating with Spain on other installations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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