Amendment prevents bill's funds from going to potential BRAC proceedings

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates watches a HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT) demonstration during a visit to the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, Texas, May 2, 2008.
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates watches a HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT) demonstration during a visit to the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, Texas, May 2, 2008.

A move to prevent Red River Army Depot and other installations from facing another potential round of base realignment and closure proceedings gained U.S. House approval on Friday.

The approved amendment, prohibiting funds from being used for additional BRAC rounds, was put forth by U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas.

This amendment is included in FY2019 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Bill, providing support for critical housing, infrastructure, and facilities for U.S. military forces and their families, as well as increased funding for veterans' health care and benefits.

The news was met with praise from a local official.

"Rep. Ratcliffe is trying to prevent DOD (Department of Defense) from doing anything that might lead to a Base Realignment or Base Closure anywhere across the nation. By doing that, it also protects Red River Army Depot. The Department of Defense has not submitted a qualified report that demonstrates that there is an excess capacity in the organic industrial base," said Dennis L. Lewis, representative of the Texas Military Preparedness Commission.

"Rep. Ratcliffe understands the Department of Defense's capacity analysis is flawed and he is responding accordingly," said Lewis. "We appreciate his support of Red River Army Depot."

Depot offices were closed at deadline Friday, but a representative said a statement may be made in the coming days.

RRAD was activated in 1941 and was on the 1995 and 2005 BRAC lists. There has been some talk of another round of BRAC closings, but nothing offical has been announced.

According to, RRAD employs about 4,500 personel, though only a small portion of that is military. RRAD's mission initially was as an ammunition plant in 1941. Now, it handles the Army's mission of repair and reconditioning of light tracked and wheeled tactical vehicles.

Ratcliffe gave the following remarks on the U.S. House of Representatives floor on Friday prior to the passage of his amendment.

"On the placards inside of every vehicle (at RRAD) are the words: We build it as if our lives depend on it. Theirs do. The depot is a vital job creator in Northeast Texas and it's a critical component of our national defense. In this fiscal environment we have to be careful stewards of taxpayer dollars and focus our limited resources on addressing critical national security objectives and our military readiness. Having another round of BRAC simply won't help us achieve this goal."

The Government Accountability Office estimates the 2005 BRAC rounds cost the American taxpayers more than $35 billion, which was 67 percent more than the original cost estimate, Ratcliffe said.

"Starting another round of BRAC would weaken our capabilities while increasing our vulnerabilities in the face of critical threats facing our nation right now," he said.

The recent rounds of layoffs announced at RRAD are not connected to or affected by Friday's amendment, Lewis said.

"Recent reductions are a separate issue not associated with this amendment. Those employees that were released were temporary, hired to accomplish a specific mission that was completed. A BRAC affects all employees including permanent employees," he said.

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