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Joint basing plan takes shape

by Michael Briggs
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

3/14/2008 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Joint basing is a reality, it's happening in San Antonio, and it will effectively support the city's military communities here.

That is the message from local military leaders as they move toward consolidating support operations at three San Antonio installations as mandated by the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

Under the BRAC joint basing plan, installation support functions at the Army's Fort Sam Houston will combine with those at Randolph and Lackland Air Force bases to form what could be the largest base organization in the Department of Defense when actions are completed by 2011.

San Antonio is one of 12 locations worldwide where DOD sites are combining to form joint bases. The Air Force is the executive agent for joint basing in San Antonio.

"Our goal is to create a joint basing command that provides outstanding support to the mission commanders and the people who work, live and train at our installations," said Dr. Clarence E. Maxwell, deputy director of the San Antonio Integration Office. SAIO is responsible for oversight of the 2005 BRAC program in San Antonio.

He said current planning involves comparing how various services are being provided today with the intent to identify and apply the best alternatives in the future.

The implementation plan calls for stand up of a joint base wing with initial operating capability by January 2010, and with full operating capability by October 2010.

More than 40 support functions will combine to form the joint base wing, which a brigadier general will command, with three subordinate support groups, one at each San Antonio installation, Dr. Maxwell said.

Those functions include command support operations like safety and public affairs, and natural and built environment functions such as public works (also known as civil engineering) and housing.

Other functions aligning under the joint base wing include community services and morale programs, such as police, fire, chapel, youth activities, lodging and dining facilities, and resource functions like supply, transportation, finance and information technology.

A lot of planning and analysis must still take place to make the joint base a reality, but Air Force and Army leaders and functional working groups have been meeting regularly to ensure they keep progress on track.

"Locally, we have established a Joint Basing Integration Office led by a colonel," Dr. Maxwell said. "The office is staffed by full-time Air Force and Army members supported by a few contract personnel. This staff has been working hard to develop the plans to get us to full operational capability."

The JBIO team has trained more than 240 employees from the three installations in how to create a memorandum of agreement, or MOA, that will provide the framework for joint basing operations, said Col. Vincent Feck, chief of the JBIO.

The colonel said the next steps in the process involve drafting the MOA by May and then evaluating the effectiveness of the MOA this summer.

The ultimate goal for the JBIO team is to make the changeover to the joint base as seamless as possible, Colonel Feck said.

"Where there is change, we will communicate it, but we really want the transition to be transparent to the customer," he said.

Employees in the support functions should know their jobs are secure, Dr. Maxwell said.

"I think people's greatest concerns are whether they will lose their jobs or have to move," he said. "On the installations, I frankly do not see jobs being eliminated or moved. We will need just as many support personnel tomorrow as we have today. In fact, we believe we will need more. We will be creating some new positions and people may desire to apply for these positions, so there could be some voluntary moves, but I do not foresee involuntary moves."

Since the Air Force is the agent establishing the joint base in San Antonio, civilians whose jobs end up in the joint base wing will become Air Force employees.

"I made that move recently myself," Dr. Maxwell said. "I am of the opinion employees will see little difference."

To ensure people have the opportunity to get all the information they need about joint basing, the integration team will hold town hall meetings and other forums within the San Antonio military community. The SAIO Web site also will include joint basing updates and information.



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