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No BRAC In 2014, But Local Leaders Prepare For Possibility Of Future Closures

Eileen Pace
TPR News
Members of the San Antonio Military Transformation Taskforce meet in 2013.

Although San Antonio was treated kindly in the recently-signed budget bill, local officials are starting now to prepare for possible base closures later this decade.

Mark Frye serves on the City of San Antonio Military Transformation Taskforce, a group that advocates for the local military at the national level. He said the budget bill just signed into law after Christmas only protects bases through the next budget year.

"Thanks to our Congress there is no current round of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) approved in the National Defense Authorization Act," Frye said. "Having said that, I don’t think we’re safe beyond a couple of years."

John Dickson, a member of the Air Force Space Command Commander’s Group that advises the Air Force, agrees.

"The Air Force is going to push to reduce its footprint, there’s no doubt about it," Dickson said. He said the budget bill brought clarity for the military -- which helps with contracts and planning -- but it was a mixed bag that foreshadows a reduction in force across the Department of Defense.

Dickson said San Antonio’s military has many strengths, in particular Fort Sam’s medical training mission and the Air Force’s cyber security mission, but he worries about Camp Bullis.

"You just can’t recreate and go buy more property to do that," he said. "So, even though it doesn’t house a tremendous amount of buildings and people and missions, it has a disproportionately important role because of the training component for both Fort Sam and Lackland."

Officials involved in the city’s relationship with the military say local leaders need to be diligent relative to the kind of military systems that could be jeopardized in a future BRAC, which Frye predicts would come in 2017.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.