Defense Secretary James Mattis tells Congress that shuttering unnecessary bases could save billions

U.S. military base.
(Image credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Defense Secretary James Mattis wants to review Department of Defense properties after an Oct. 6 report found that 19 percent of military bases are unneeded, he wrote in a letter earlier this month. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, released Mattis' letter and the accompanying report Tuesday.

Mattis is urging closures that would take place under the Base Realignment and Closure program (BRAC). The last round of BRAC evaluations was approved over 14 years ago, in 2005, and the DoD is hoping Congress will allow a new review in 2021.

The push to re-evaluate military bases has been met with frustration from lawmakers who worry about economic and electoral consequences if base closures were to occur in their districts. The Pentagon, meanwhile, estimates that closures would result in billions of dollars in savings.

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Mattis explained in his letter to Congress: "The BRAC process provides opportunities for military forces to be more effective, for capabilities to be enhanced, and for savings to be applied to higher priorities."

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