Joint Basing: Time to Give Up, or Reframe?

  • Ms. Lisa D. Gilley

Is it time to give up on joint basing? The short answer is “no.” Department of Defense leaders have debated the need for “jointness” in military operations for decades, a debate that reached a decisive point with the enactment of the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986. In another step toward jointness, the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law’s creation of 12 joint bases by consolidating 26 individual military single-service bases also sparked lively debate across the DoD. Adding a perplexing wrinkle in 2012, a Government Accountability Office report highlighted a lack of projected savings thus far from the BRAC joint bases, an outcome that has caused some military service chiefs to question whether joint basing should continue. Rather than viewing the lack of savings as proof of the joint basing concept’s failure, this paper will present a case for reframing the way the DoD views joint basing, moving perspectives from the tactical plain of infrastructure consolidation for administrative efficiencies based on geographic proximity, to a broader strategic framework based on dimensions and levels of jointness, and on opportunities for leveraging joint mission synergies that may ultimately lead to greater cost savings efficiencies.