GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) – Charleston Air Force Base and the Naval Weapons Station of Charleston became one military team Friday.
Friday marks the day these two installations become Joint Base Charleston. The joint basing concept was born out of the Base Closure and Realignment Commission's 2005 recommendations. The Naval Weapons Station of Charleston became a part of Joint Base Charleston during a ceremony Friday morning.
Friday's celebration brought together members of the military, their families and friends.
Joint Base Charleston now employs roughly 21,790 military, civilian and contractor personnel. The installation will encompass 23,777 acres, covering 37 square miles. In all, there will be 16 miles of shoreline, 38 miles of rail, three miles of runways, 56 C-17s and 53 tenant organizations.
Air Force Col. Martha Meeker is the Joint Base Charleston commander and Navy Capt. Ralph Ward is the Joint Base Charleston deputy commander.
"It's a culture change and a culture integration because it is not us absorbing the Navy, it is us joining with the Navy, taking the best and working to come up with something new," Col. Martha Meeker said.
In 2005, Congress passed the Base Regiment and Closure Commission, mandating 24 different bases be merged into 12. Graham said that this new base will be more efficient and cost effective.
"It's going to really help the taxpayer having one group in charge of these two facilities," Sen. Lindsay Graham said. "It will make it a much more efficient base to be operated."
Meeker says the new base better reflects the joint operations of our military branches on the war front, bringing that team work to the home front.
The event featured free food and military demonstrations provided by both the Air Force and the Navy. Musical entertainment will be provided by the U.S. Air Force Heritage Brass Quintet and the Blue Aces, both are assigned to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Playing along with them will be members of the U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Band from Norfolk, Va.