The Significance of the Obvious

By: Brooks A. Mick

Alfred North Whitehead once said, “It takes an extraordinary intelligence to contemplate the obvious”. What could be more obvious than combining two military bases into one? Well, combining 26 into 12, for sure!

The military has, (seven in January, five in October) taken 26 different bases and made them into twelve “joint bases.” For example, Langley Air Force Base and Ft. Eustis in Virginia became Joint Base Langley-Eustis, led by the Air Force. Lackland and Randolph Air Force Bases and Ft. Sam Houston in Texas became Joint Base San Antonio, led by the Air Force. Elmendorf Air Force Base and Ft. Richardson in Arkansas became Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, led by the Air Force.

Of the twelve combined “joint” bases, two were assigned to the command of the U. S. Army, the rest were assigned to the Air Force or the Navy. None were under the command of the Marine Corps. The Air Force, possibly our furthest service removed from ground combat, was given base command of six of these twelve newly combined bases and four to the Navy.

Add to the list Ft. Monroe is being folded into Ft. Eustis.

You can look up the full list if you are interested. But the point is that quite a few disparate bases are being combined and put under the command of one of the branches. So, you might inquire, what is the significance of this obvious base consolidation? I’ve looked around and I’m the only person in the room, so I will have to play the part of the “extraordinary intelligence” mentioned by Alfred North Whitehead.

I suspect that someone, somewhere, doesn’t like fighting soldiers.

I have nothing against the Navy and Air Force, but when I note that only two of their bases were put under the command of the Army and none were commanded by Marines, but there were eight US Army and one Marine base put under the command of the Air Force or Navy. That is, the ground combat, rifles and bayonets and knives fighters were mostly turned over to air and water commanders. My experience with such as that the latter are more likely to be political gameplayers than honest-to-god fighting leaders who know how a battle should be fought. I’m generalizing, sure, but then I’d find it tough to put thousands of individual officers into this brief paper and analyze them all.

So this is a way to extend the influence of the “wimps in the White House,” as the staff of General McChrystal put it, even more strongly into our fighting forces, if by “fighting force” one means those who shoulder packs and pick up their rifles and tuck knives into sheaths and go out looking for the enemy on foot.

Rest assured I’m not disparaging the skills or courage of our fighter or bomber pilots or our naval officers, but would they think it reasonable to give command of a fighter base to a foot soldier?

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