PLAN: BRAC 2005
Lara Maupin, former social studies teacher and student government adviser at Thomas
Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia
government/civics, current events
This lesson is intended to take one - two class periods.
will understand the role and purpose of the BRAC commission as well as the current
BRAC process and timeline.
will identify ways for stakeholders to impact the BRAC process, an example of
defense policy making.
this lesson, your students will examine the process by which the U.S. military
examines its base structure and determines what changes are needed in order to
efficiently respond to current and future national security challenges. Doing
so will help your students understand how defense policy is made by the U.S. government
and the roles the president, lawmakers, bureaucrats, and citizens have in defense
policy making. This lesson is especially relevant in a government or civics class
but may be used in any social studies class in which current events are discussed.
to National Standards
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Introduction / Background
Explain to your students that periodically the
U.S. military must examine its bases to make sure it has what it needs to meet
current or future national security challenges and that U.S. taxpayers are not
funding excess capacity (facilities and services that are no longer useful or
that overlap). The process by which the Defense Department does this is called
BRAC and the latest round of BRAC is going on now. It is estimated that the previous
four rounds of BRAC conducted since 1988 have saved U.S. taxpayers $17 billion
through 2001 and that billions more may be saved if the estimated 20-25% excess
capacity is eliminated. The savings realized from base closings and realignments
could then be used for higher military priorities, needed modernization, and warfighting.
However, because base closures can cause economic and social disruption to communities
and require environmental cleanup, the process is somewhat political and emotionally
charged. It is therefore important for us to understand how the process works,
what has been done to make it as fair and open as possible, and how citizens can
make their voices heard.
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld submitted his BRAC recommendations on May 13, 2005.
He called for the closure of 33 military installations and the realignment of
29 more (out of 318). Several more bases were added to the list for consideration
by the BRAC commission during its July 19 hearings.
Online NewsHour Special Report: www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/military/brac/index.html
Base Closure and Realignment Commission: www.brac.gov
of Defense: BRAC www.defenselink.mil/brac/
Give your students the Handout and ask them to complete it. Provide
them with computers with Internet access and the Web sites listed above. Students
may work in pairs or small groups while conducting Internet research but should
complete their handouts individually. Alternatively, you may provide printouts
from the Web sites or assign Internet research as homework, as appropriate.
Have your students role-play one of the regional meetings
being held around the country during the summer of 2005. These hearings are opportunities
for the BRAC commission to hear from local communities about the economic and
social impact of base closings and realignments.
your students to imagine that they are members of a community with a base recommended
for closure. This base currently employs 1500 civilians in support roles. It is
used only by one branch of the military. It has office buildings, runways, and
barracks, twenty percent of which are unused. In addition, the base has many acres
of undeveloped land.
your students into the following groups:
businesses who serve the base
citizens, including civilian base employees
and local elected officials
each group 10 - 15 minutes to brainstorm and discuss what its position on the
proposed base closure might be. Remind students that it is possible for most groups
to view base closure positively or negatively since a base that is closed may
then be turned over to the community and used in new ways. Tell each group they
will have 3 minutes to present their views to the commission. One group member
may speak for the group or several may speak but their delegation may not go over
simulate the hearing by having each group present their views to the commissioners.
Once all groups have presented, ask the commissioners to share what impact the
statements would be likely to have on their recommendations regarding closing
the base given the commission's goals.
with a discussion of what your students now think of the BRAC process. Does it
seem fair to citizens, taxpayers, military personnel, base employees, and communities?
What should the priorities of elected leaders be when considering base closures?
What did they learn from this activity about policy making? What surprised them?
Have your students find out what bases in your area
are actually recommended for closure or realignment. Have them research the possible
impact on your community and write to the BRAC commission and/or their elected
officials. You may do this as an exercise or have your students forward their
comments to the commission at www.brac.gov. (Note that if hearings have already
been conducted in your area, students may look at the actual transcripts at this
Web site as well when conducting their research.)
if few bases exist in your region, have students consider where most bases currently
are and whether to meet national security and homeland security goals, a base
should be located in your area. Students may wish to consider Senator Kennedy's
statement in a May 13 column in USA Today on the matter:
are concentrated in the South and Southwest. The states in the Northeast, Midwest,
and Pacific have few military bases but the bulk of the population, so an adequate
regional balance must be an essential part of this BRAC evaluation."
to National Standards
Compendium of K-12 Standards Addressed:
Standard 21: Understands the formation and implementation of public policy
Knows a public policy issue at the local, state, or national level well enough
to identify the major groups interested in that issue and explain their respective
Benchmark: Understands the processes by which public policy
concerning a local, state, or national issue is formed and carried out
Knows the points at which citizens can monitor or influence the process of public
Standard 28: Understands how participation in civic and political life can
help citizens attain individual and public goals
Benchmark: Knows the
many ways citizens can participate in the political process at local, state, and
national levels, and understands the usefulness of other forms of political participation
in influencing public policy (e.g., attending political and governmental meetings,
demonstrating, contacting public officials, writing letters, boycotting, community
organizing, petitioning, picketing)
Council for the Social Studies Thematic Strands (http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/):
Groups, and Institutions
Production, Distribution, and Consumption
Technology, and Society
Civic Ideals and Practices
the Author Author Lara Maupin has a Masters Degree in Secondary Social
Studies Education from George Washington University and a Bachelors Degree
in Anthropology and Philosophy from Mount Holyoke College.
find out more about opportunities to contribute to this site, contact Leah Clapman at email@example.com.