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Being "Joint" isn't a new concept

  • Published
  • By Colonel Richard McComb
  • Joint Base Charleston commander
Although "Joint Basing" is a relatively new term in our military lexicon, the concept of "joint" especially as it relates to military operations is not. In fact, joint operations date back to the time of Alexander the Great, when he realized the need to develop a comprehensive resupply plan. He could no longer rely on his soldiers to forage what they needed along the route to sustain themselves for the entire length of the operation; he needed their focus to remain on the operational tasks at hand. As such, he employed alternative methods, like waterborne resupply, in order to outfit his soldiers with the necessary food, fodder and water for the duration of their military campaign. Alexander probably didn't know it at the time, but he was laying the framework for joint operations.
During the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant was not only successfully assisted by naval operations, but depended on them during the captures of Fort Donelson, Fort Henry and Vicksburg. Eighty years later, General Douglas MacArthur commanded air and ground Marine Corps and Army personnel and naval gunfire support from the Navy, during World War II.

Overtime, the need to utilize joint doctrine and employ military forces in a joint fashion became more and more apparent. In 1986, the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act was signed into law. It was this law that solidified General Norman Schwarzkopf's ability to exercise command over all four service components during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s, which ultimately led to a successful campaign.

In today's military, joint operations have become second nature and is evident throughout our national military strategy. Success is dependent upon our ability to exploit the unique capabilities and skill sets of each service component. A great example of this is when Joint Base Charleston personnel helped to collectively deploy more than 22,000 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles to the warfighter. The bulk of these vehicles were transported via ship thanks to our Army and Navy brethren. And, when operations did not afford a significant lead time for these vehicles to be delivered by surface means, Air Force personnel were utilized to airlift MRAPs to those with "boots on the ground" quickly and efficiently. Collectively, their efforts afforded thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to come home to their families, because they were protected from the roadside improvised explosive device threat.

Joint basing builds upon these same themes and allows us to profit from economies of scale not only in our mission to organize, train and equip our forces for the combatant commander, but as we execute quality of life projects and provide enhanced services at our home installations. Our medical providers have mastered this concept through their delivery of patient-centered care. Patients are often referred to partnering military treatment facilities in the event that their primary MTF does not provide the appropriate echelon of care to meet their needs. By staying within the military healthcare system, specialists are able to document and update your electronic health record immediately ... a concept that is well ahead of the civilian sector. These concepts repeat themselves again and again as we execute the garrison tasks necessary to complete the mission and care for our personnel and their families. In short, we no longer just train as we fight, but we live as we fight -jointly - at this and other joint bases.

Joint Base Charleston has the privilege to be one of only 12 joint bases in the Department of Defense. The Base Realignment and Closure Commission has estimated that joint basing will save more than $2.3 billion over the next 20 years. Our personnel will be among the few that have had the opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas and talents that will make this $2.3 billion a reality for our Nation's military. Congratulations on a successful first year as a full operational capable joint base and leading the way for the Department of Defense!