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NEWS | Aug. 1, 2006

Joint Basing with Naval Weapons Station moves forward

By Airman 1st Class Sam Hymas 437 AW Public Affairs

Charleston AFB and Naval Weapons Station Charleston have taken the first steps to becoming one big inter-service family through the new joint-basing concept.
In May, nearly 100 Airmen and Sailors from the two installations met at the Charleston Club for a briefing by Lt. Col. Tom Egbert, 437th Airlift Wing joint base coordinator, who set up the necessary working groups and committees. 

"We have 11 functional working groups who meet weekly to discuss what the merger is going to look like," Colonel Egbert said. 

The 11 working groups are command support, community services, environmental services, facilities, fire protection and emergency services, housing, human resource management, information technology services management, logistics support, law enforcement and physical security and operational mission services. 

Each one of these groups is either finished or nearly finished with their "as is" assessment of both the Navy and Air Force side of their organizations.
The "as is" assessment is a collection of all information about the organization that will merge, Colonel Egbert said. Once all data is collected the joint basing team can move forward with plans on how to come together most effectively. 

"We have been impressed with the tremendous amount of work Charleston has been able to accomplish," said Karen Etheridge, Air Mobility Command base realignment and closure program manager. "We visited the base last month and believe they are leading the Department of Defense in implementing joint basing." 

Although the team has made great strides, they have a lot of work ahead of them. 

"The bottom-line is we're trying to find the best way to take our two dissimilar organizations, examine these differences and determine an organizational structure that will most effectively accomplish our mission," said Lt. Col. Henry Steenken, 437th Airlift Wing director of staff and a member of the joint basing executive committee. 
"We need to figure out how we can benefit by joining the manpower and funding from these similar organizations." 

According to the latest draft guidance from the BRAC '05 steering committee, the new joint installation will have an installation commander from the supporting service, in this case the Air Force, with the deputy joint base commander position likely coming from the supported service, the Navy. 

Also, once joint base organization is implemented, all Navy civilian personnel billets providing installation support will fall under the Air Force civilian personnel system.
The joint base partnership council, a group of senior leadership from both bases, is working toward finishing a memorandum of agreement between the installations by October 2007, Colonel Egbert said. The agreement will define financial arrangements, installation support output levels, financial and performance reporting requirements, dispute resolution procedures and disposition of assets other than real property as well as detailing the timeline for full implementation regarding real property transfer.