If there’s one word that strikes fear in the hearts of military communities, it’s the acronym commonly known as BRAC.

The Base Realignment and Closure process is the official method by which the government looks at current military assets and determines whether it would be beneficial to close or realign certain programs, bases, and facilities. Run by an independent commission, BRAC was designed to be a transparent, non-political method of eliminating surplus properties and facilities.

The last official BRAC took place in 2005, but earlier this week the vice chief of staff of the Air Force and his counterpart in the Army testified before Congress that they favored another round of BRAC reviews.

“In today’s budget environment, it makes sense to invest wisely,” Air Force Gen. Stephen Wilson told members of the House Armed Services Committee. “So BRAC would help us make smart investments to prepare for the future.”

At the mention of BRAC, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a member of the Armed Services Committee, immediately pricked up his ears.

“I’ve been saying that I thought there would be another BRAC during the Trump Administration,” Gaetz said. “I’m focused on this, because I believe another BRAC could provide a great opportunity for Northwest Florida. We’ve got a winning record when it comes to BRAC.”

In fact, as a result of the 2005 BRAC recommendations, both Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base saw a net gain in personnel and missions, including the relocation of the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) from Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Still, the mere mention of a new BRAC can lead to fears of cuts to the programs that are so essential to the Northwest Florida economy.

“I was surprised at how candid the vice chiefs were,” Gaetz added. “Usually people don’t want to talk about BRAC because it’s so sensitive.”

Local economist David Goetsch, the chairman emeritus of the Florida Defense Support Task Force, said he isn’t worried that a new round of BRAC will negatively affect local military installations.

“Florida has a plan in place to benefit from another BRAC,” Goetsch said. “We’re way ahead of most states when it comes to preparation, and we have a lobbyist who keeps us informed.”

Goetsch said the unique attributes of Eglin’s land and water ranges help to protect the region from cuts in military missions.

“Those ranges aren’t going anywhere,” he said.

Gaetz agreed that local efforts to “BRAC-proof” local bases are beginning to pay dividends.

“Florida is now the model for coming up with joint ventures for low-impact use of state forests,” he said. “This may be one of the smartest things we’ve done.”

Nevertheless, Gaetz, who made it a top priority to be appointed to the House Armed Services Committee, believes local officials need to remain vigilant.

“We should be very aggressive in pursuing cyber missions at our bases,” he said. “Cyber will be a top priority for funding for the next several decades. If we’re going to be in the game, we need to win it.”