Service secretaries visit Guam to analyze joint basing status

  • Published
William C. Anderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, and his Navy counterpart, B J Penn, traveled to Guam to analyze the status of joint basing and future Guam development.

Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Bice accompanied the assistant secretaries as the newly appointed executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office. Based on preliminary briefings by both Navy and Air Force leaders on island, joint basing here is proceeding well, said Mr. Anderson in an interview Jan. 20.

"We were pleased about what we've heard," Mr. Anderson said. "With relatively limited guidance from Washington, the Navy and Air Force leadership here on Guam have come together. They've begun leaning forward to plan how to implement this as we move into the future."

Under joint basing, selected Department of Defense facilities will pool common aspects of management, facilities or services.

"There are a lot of activities on bases that are similar no matter where you go, such as how you manage those facilities, how you manage infrastructure and how you provide basic support services to those facilities," Mr. Anderson said. "If you combined similar activities, the theory is you can save money."

According to Mr. Anderson, it is possible to provide the same services with fewer people.

"That's what we're trying to accomplish with joint basing, and it's an important and valuable exercise," he said.

While the concept of bundling installation services is fairly new to the military, it's a concept used in businesses worldwide.

"This can work. It has worked. It does work," said Mr. Anderson. "We're just implementing ideas and business concepts that are used in other organizations around the world. We're putting them to play in the military."

The military plans to use joint basing as a means to increase efficiency of resources including facilities, personnel and money.

"As government agencies, we are users of taxpayers' dollars," Mr. Anderson said. "We have to be a good steward of how we spend them."

According to the assistant secretary, the joint basing efforts on Guam are progressing well.

"The teams here have been working very well together," he said. "They are on the right track of doing what is best for the taxpayer while not in any way limiting the effectiveness of any particular service to do the job they've been asked to do."

As the only forward operating base to be considered under the Base Realignment and Closure initiative, Andersen AFB must find a way to balance the day-to-day mission with the strategic flexibility to conduct forward operations in a crisis or wartime situation.

"Joint basing is not a 'one size fits all' situation," Mr. Anderson said. "Guam is different. The way we approach joint basing here will be different. The team here is leading the way; they've developed some really good ideas. They've done a lot of detailed analysis and have developed some ideas of what make sense under joint basing. They have a timeline and action items moving forward to put some meat on the bones about what they proposed to do."

While the Department of Defense shifts to the joint-base philosophy and continues to implement plans to move forward, Airmen at Andersen AFB will see change.

"Any time there's change, there's some uncertainty and some disruption," Mr. Anderson said. "Our commitment to the Airmen is to keep that disruption to them to a minimum and maintain quality of life at its current level or, at its best case, continue to improve the quality of life."

Mr. Anderson added that although the Department of Defense is looking to increase some efficiencies, it doesn't mean the quality of life for the Airmen will decrease.

"Quality of life is paramount," he said. "We will maintain it the way we have for the last 60 years into the future."

Mr. Anderson said he feels the joint basing of U.S. forces on Guam will prove to be a positive experience.

"It's a great opportunity for the services to work much closer together, live much closer together and if we go to war together ... understand how to live and function together," he said. "It is an opportunity, I think, that will be fun and interesting for everybody."

Comment on this story (comments may be published on Air Force Link)

Click here to view the comments/letters page