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Joint base planning ongoing for 2010

  • Published
  • By Sandra Pishner
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash., -- In 2010, Joint Base Lewis-McChord will support 101,000 military personnel, 14,500 civilian and contract workers, cover 414,000 acres, and hold 22,842,000 square feet of work facilities.

Fort Lewis and McChord will begin operating as Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2010, and become fully operational by October of that same year.

Working groups at Fort Lewis and McChord are now conducting inventories of all Fort Lewis and McChord installation support requirements to determine what will become the responsibility of the JBLM commander, and what will remain with operational commanders.

So how does this move toward a joint base, as mandated by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, affect the 446th Airlift Wing? The wing is already a tenant and it will simply be gaining a new "landlord," right? Well, it's not quite that simple, according to Lt. Col. Barb Henson, JBLM coordinator for the wing.

"A lot of the support we receive from the 62nd Airlift Wing will come from the Army and some of the procedures for getting that support will be different," said Colonel Henson. "And, what we currently receive through the support agreement with the 62nd AW needs to be reviewed since it has been three years since that agreement was updated."

Keeping in close touch with 62nd AW counterparts throughout the joint-basing process is critical, according to Col. Bill Flanigan, 446th AW commander.

"We want to make sure we're totally in sync with our functional partners on the active-duty side of the house," said Colonel Flanigan. "Our functional representatives should be well-versed in their portion of the support agreement in order to effectively transfer that support into the joint-basing memorandum of agreement."

Recognizing the potential impact on the Reserve mission and readiness, Colonel Flanigan hired Colonel Henson to work full time on joint-basing.

"Keep in mind too, that the original support agreement was written between two Air Force units, who speak the same language. We need to a common language that includes Army and Air Force words and blend our cultures," said Colonel Henson.

Ultimately, the memorandum of agreement for JBLM will be signed by the Army and Air Force vice chiefs of staff.

Through the joint basing process, some of the 62nd AW support functions will no longer be run by the Air Force, creating a conundrum for the Reserve Associates. "How do you associate with a function when it is no longer an Air Force function?" asked Col. Craig Petersen, 446th Mission Support Group. "This is something we have to focus on to make sure we preserve our training capabilities and readiness."

For instance, the security force's mission includes installation security when mobilized. Under the joint basing concept, security and police services for common base areas (not the airfield) may be provided jointly by Air Force security forces and Army military police or contractors.

The definition of "installation security," will need to be translated between Air Force-speak and Army-speak in order for us to ensure we have the right words in the MOA, according to Master Sgt. Lenny Deboma, 446th Security Forces Squadron operations manager. Working groups developing the recipe for Joint Base Lewis-McChord must sprinkle these types of issues into the mix.

As progress is made morphing into a joint base, expect to see town hall meetings, news articles, commander's calls and Web announcements providing answers to questions.