Most everyone has heard the acronym “NIMBY” for “Not In My Back Yard!” The defense section of the FY14 Omnibus is a strong indication the NIMBYs on the Hill are staying nimble for the fight against cuts to military bases or missions in their Congressional districts.
First, the Pentagon’s budget request included $8 million to begin the process of another round of base closures. And we know how lawmakers love it when a group, not beholden to Congress or the Pentagon, starts looking for bases no longer needed by a shrinking and modernizing military! So, the first blow to any kind of reduction in the physical infrastructure of the Pentagon here in the United States is where Congress removed the entire $8 million. And without any money appropriated for that purpose, the Pentagon can’t start the process of another round of base closures (BRAC).
Next, the Pentagon is prohibited from spending any money to conduct an analysis of the environmental impact of the silos that contain Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs.) The “Missile Caucus” in the Senate is ever vigilant against any review that might cast an unflattering light on this nuclear mission, a relic of the Cold War missile race with the Soviet Union.
Finally, the Alaska delegation remains strong in the appropriations process. How do we know? The Air Force plan to transition of elements of a particular F-16 squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (also in Alaska!) was scuttled. Could this relate back to the first item on our list? We think it does. No Member of Congress wants to see missions moved from a military base in their district or state for fear that base will then become vulnerable in any future round of base closure. But it is an extreme example when the Alaska delegation doesn’t want to see missions moved from one base in their state to another!
The NIMBYs are alive, well, and still nimble.