Sunday, January 25, 2009

DOD - The Largest Landlord In The World

In a post on Friday I linked to a Denver Post editorial on the Army's proposed expansion of the Pinon Canyon Training Facility. According to the editorial the Army says its training land shortfall will reach 4.5 million acres by 2013. My comment was "What a laugh."

I decided to look into this further. I knew the military had a bunch of land, but I didn't know exactly how much.

The Base Structure Report(pdf) for FY 2008 contains the land profile for the Department of Defense. The introduction to the report states, "The Depart of Defense remains one of the world's largest 'landlords' with a physical plant consisting of more than 545,700 facilities (buildings, structures and linear structures) located on more than 5400 sites, on approximately 30 million acres."

The land profile further refines that to 29.8 million acres owned or controlled by DOD. More than 98% of the land is in the US, with the Army managing 52% and the Air Force 33%.

29.8 million acres equals 46,562.5 square miles. How do you put that in perspective? Let's try this: Of the Thirteen Original Colonies, six of them (Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire & Massachusetts) would fit into the land mass controlled by DOD, with 8359 square miles or 5.3 million acres left over. In other words, you could add another New Jersey.

29.8 million acres and they don't have enough land to practice? They may have a turf problem or a setting of priorities problem, but they don't have a lack of land problem.

This and other proposed military expansions across the west point out another issue. You don't need 29.8 million acres for training if your mission is to defend the U.S. You need that kind of acreage if you are establishing an empire and policing the world. And that has costs beyond the dollars appropriated as witnessed by the landowners being threatened in Colorado. Expansion abroad means an expanding government at home, and less freedom for all.

Go here to learn more about the Pinon Canyon expansion

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