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The wide-scale changes to US bases in Europe could open the door to another round of domestic base realignment and closure here in the United States, officials told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday. The European Infrastructure Consolidation review launched two years ago partly in response to recurring comments from Congress that excess European infrastructure should be addressed before another BRAC round is approved. The Defense Department does not need authorization from Congress to close its European bases, though Congress must still provide the appropriations to follow through with the plan. Overall, the project is expected to cost $1.4 billion, but will reap an annual savings of $500 million. US European Command boss Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said the actions will help the US “maintain a persistent and capable presence in Europe” by matching “infrastructure with operational requirements and military force structure.” The EIC recommendations will result in a “slight decrease of force levels,” but also ensures that US and NATO forces are appropriately positioned to quickly respond to crises across the globe, said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a Jan. 8 US European Command release. “I value the tremendous support [host nations] have provided for decades and continue to provide today,” he added. (Breedlove statement)