Overseas Basing:

Air Force and Army Processes for Selecting Bases to Close in Europe

NSIAD-91-195: Published: Apr 24, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Air Force's and Army's processes for selecting bases to close in Europe, focusing on: (1) site selection processes and criteria; and (2) how those processes compared with the Department of Defense's (DOD) process for proposing domestic base closures and realignments.

GAO found that: (1) the services considered the military value of facilities and their potential for decreased support costs and increased efficiency of operations in recommending which European bases and installations to close; (2) as of April 1991, the Army had 216,000 military personnel assigned to 858 European installations, but planned to reduce its forces to 158,500 military personnel; (3) the Army emphasized retaining the newest and best-maintained installations on the assumption that they would be the least costly to maintain; (4) the Army identified 101 installations to close, mostly in Germany, to meet its approved manpower level; (5) the Air Force determined which aircraft it would remove from Europe and then identified bases and installations that would subsequently have excess capacity; (6) although both domestic and European site selection processes considered budget reductions, reduced threat, and changes in U.S. military strategy, the European process focused on personnel reductions, and whether a large military presence should be retained in Europe; (7) the legislatively mandated domestic site selection relied more on verifiable data and quantifiable analysis and considered economic, environmental, and other impacts on the affected communities; and (8) the services in Europe did not use weighting, ranking, and cost analysis techniques that were as stringent as those used in the domestic process.