Courtney tries to put out BRAC brushfire

Sen. John Kerry caused a stir with recent comments suggesting that another round of base closings might be in the offing by 2015 or so. The Naval Submarine Base in Groton barely survived the last round in 2005, so the panic in some corners of Connecticut was palpable.

But Rep. Joe Courtney said no such plans are in the works. And he elicited similar remarks today from a top Navy official, who was testifying before the House Armed Services Committee.

Courtney, a Democrat whose district includes the sub base, asked if anyone at the Navy had requested a new round of base closings. “No,” responded Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “I know of no effort to plan for one in the Navy” or within the Department of Defense. “It’s a long process…  In fact, we’re still dealing with a lot of the issues that the previous BRAC round surfaced.”

Courtney noted that Congress would have to authorize a new the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) to kick off that process. And Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, the Republican chairman of the committee, said he didn’t know of any plan to move forward with another BRAC.

But as Kerry said in his remarks, it can’t hurt to be on guard. “We need to prepare for the reality that every defense installation in America will be under scrutiny coming into 2015,” he said.