Army Chief Calls for Joint Basing Review

Army Gen. Mark Milley addresses the Congressional Staff Breakfast attended by about 300 military legislative assistants at the 2016 AUSA Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo/Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill)
Army Gen. Mark Milley addresses the Congressional Staff Breakfast attended by about 300 military legislative assistants at the 2016 AUSA Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo/Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill)

Six years after the Army completed a program to consolidate military bases, the service's top official says the system needs to be reviewed.

"What we need to do ... is take a hard, systemic look at that and determine ... if it's working or not working," said Gen. Mark Milley, Army chief of staff. "If it's not working, what is the reason? Is it because it's joint basing, or is it something else at play here?"

Milley spoke at a family forum during the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army in Washington, D.C.

In response to a recommendation from the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission, known as BRAC, the Defense Department created a dozen joint bases around the country by consolidating 26 installations that either shared a boundary or were located close to each other.

For example, the Army's Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington, and the Air Force's McChord Air Force Base became Joint Base Lewis-McChord, while Fort Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska, and Elmendorf Air Force Base became Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The consolidation was supposed to save money in part by eliminating redundant services to train and equip forces. However, government auditors in 2013 reported that the savings may be minimal because the installations adopted costly new standards for everything from airfield operations to ground maintenance.

Additionally, some redundancies still exist. For example, Joint Base Lewis-McChord has two commissaries managed by separate and competing management teams.

The joint basing program has also drawn criticism from military families who say that it has resulted in crumbling infrastructure in neighborhoods and recreation centers.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to correct descriptions of McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis in the seventh paragraph.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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