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Joint basing can be hard

Posted 2/9/2012   Updated 2/10/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Creager
305 Air Mobility Wing Command Chief

2/9/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Joint basing is hard. The Services often have different regulations, ways of conducting business and different cultures.

They have different missions, shifting priorities and are competing for the same finite resources.

As individuals, we want to be in our comfort zone and frequently refer to "the way it worked at our last base." We sometimes get frustrated because we are just plain unfamiliar with new processes, nomenclature, dissimilar acronyms and our lack of control.

Many times we don't know who to turn to when we want things done or want answers. Sometimes we even feel our service is being ignored. Why can't I not get an appointment? Why aren't the police patrolling my neighborhood? Why isn't my building being repaired? Why is the base paper so one-sided this week? The "your service here" wouldn't allow this.

The reality is that joint basing is hard and all other joint bases are dealing with their own unique challenges. I believe dealing with ours will require all of us to ensure Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is a better place.

As you thumb through the pages of this paper, or turn them on your favorite electronic device, you will see pictures of great Americans from many units represented on JB MDL. My unit for example, the CAN DO Wing, has a proud legacy reaching back to the B-17 Flying Fortress unit commanded by the legendary Maj. Curtis E. Lemay. I proudly look at our guidon every day; it bears streamers and ribbons from World War II campaigns to the present day, from the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission over Germany to Operation Odyssey Dawn over Libya.

The 305th is only one of two Air Mobility Wings and the only Air Force unit with two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. It is a rightfully proud wing and everyone associated with it should share in that pride.

The 87th Air Base Wing, Marine Aircraft Group 49, Naval Operational Support Center, Army Support Activity-Dix and countless others are just as proud and deserving as any other on base. Every one of our services has a heritage and lineage to be equally proud of and there is nothing wrong with unit pride but we can't forget/lose sight of our reliance on one anpther to accomplish each mission.

It is easy to get frustrated when we perceive one service getting more than another. It is frustrating when we are not in control or don't understand how business is done or can't do it the way we are used to. Education and communication will help. This is done through community discussions, town-hall meetings and knowing/using our chains of command. It cannot be done in the aisles of the commissary or in the nooks and crannies of Facebook. As members of the military and those who support others, we must remember we are instruments of our civilian leadership, bound to support and defend the Constitution and our nation.

Our leaders have decided on this structure called "Joint Base." It is easy for us to feel isolated or feel disenfranchised or believe we could segregate ourselves from the other units. But, the fact is we are all bound by the single-biggest responsibility of all: protect the United States of America from all enemies, foreign and domestic. We have a bond greater than any sister-service affiliation.

Undoubtedly, the joint basing construct will continue to evolve for many years, cultivating some measure of inter-service rivalry but we must never forget our initial charge and understand that we need to work toward common goals. We must work together to take care of our base, the community and each other. It isn't just another air base -- it is our base. It may not be the post, ship, or base we asked for, but it is home for now and a community we all simply want to improve. Pick up trash, call in work orders, make suggestions, attend councils, volunteer and be involved.

Never "walk by" because it is easier to blame someone else. This is our home and we should be proud of it. We must work together jointly; work together to find efficiencies, combine efforts and continue to make JB MDL a wonderful place to live, work and play.

I am proud to participate in guiding the future legacy of this installation, drawing synergies from the three equally proud installations that bind it together and I am proud to be associated with those of you who are part of it, no matter which service you are from and no matter how hard it may seem.

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