OSD visit provides joint basing perspective

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Often, when the words "joint-basing" are spoken in conversations between service members, they invoke myriad responses.

This was certainly the case as the Joint Base Langley-Eustis concept was discussed in depth between senior leaders from both Langley Air Force Base and Fort Eustis, Va., and the Office of the Secretary of Defense on Sept. 20 and 21.

"Joint basing is hard," said Air Force Col. Charles Perham, deputy director of basing with the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense. "There are 46 separate installation support functions where the services had to develop common definitions for working with one another. The best solutions often bridge across service lines."

Joint basing began in 2005 after the president passed into law the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission which realigned 26 geographically proximate installations into 12 joint bases with one service taking the lead at each location.

"Joint bases are viewed as national assets," Perham said. "They are unique and therefore receive a lot of attention."

Much of that attention focuses on the aims of joint basing, which are to optimize the delivery of installation support - finding the best ways for those 46 functions to work effectively, and through innovation, developing best practices and efficiencies.

"These bases have the opportunities to be engines of innovation for the DOD," Perham said. "Even though we merged bases together, we are continually striving to preserve unique service culture and heritage."

Perham said military innovation exists as a way to introduce new methods and procedures into practices and operations. He said the unforeseen benefits joint basing offers toward innovation and cultural appreciation within the military are tremendous.

"We deploy to joint environments," Perham said. "A service member assigned to a joint base as their first assignment should have a leg up on a deployment over someone assigned to a regular installation."

With nearly 900 service members from Langley and Fort Eustis currently deployed, the benefits to understanding joint service operations can be seen both downrange and at the joint base.

"We have a very robust deployment mission built into JBLE," said U.S. Air Force Col. Korvin Auch, 633rd Air Base Wing commander. "Anyone who has been downrange knows that joint is the way we do business in that environment."

Auch said the focus of the joint base has always been geared toward completing the mission and meeting the needs of the nation.

"Joint bases are all about the mission," Auch said. "It's tougher in a resource-constrained environment, but JBLE is successful because we are getting the mission done."

During these lean financial times, Perham said service members at all levels have been asked to look for proactive means to save money, manpower and resources. While data on how Joint Base Langley-Eustis has been performing is forthcoming, Perham said the bridge toward the future of joint basing can only be strengthened through education of the joint base concept at all levels.

"The job of the leaders at joint bases is to educate," he said. "JBLE is unique because its bases are geographically separate; therefore, it brings unique challenges and strengths to the table."

One of the challenges between Fort Eustis and Langley is communicating well while preserving service culture. Perham said different ways of handling a situation can exist between services, but through cooperation the final way forward can be stronger, while still respectful of each service's unique identity.

"Change is difficult," Perham said. "Joint basing is here to stay. Service members need to be open-minded and ask themselves how they can do their job better in a joint environment."