No Draft Required: States Increasingly Volunteer to Support Military Installations, ADC Report Reveals
Defense Communities 360
December 19, 2014
State support for military installations has grown steadily over the past two decades, marked by a sharp increase in the number of states forming organizations dedicated to the preservation and promotion of their bases, along with an expansion in the amount and kinds of support invested, according to a new report from the Association of Defense Communities.
Only a few states had military affairs organizations prior to 1990, but now 34 states have such organizations. Much of the growth has occurred since the 2005 round of base closures, with the looming threat to military installations resulting from stringent spending caps on the Pentagon’s budget and significant excess capacity in DOD’s infrastructure accounting for the heightened awareness on the state level of the importance of defense facilities.
The findings in State of Support: Highlights of State Support for Defense Installations are based on responses from the leaders of 23 state military affairs organizations that participate in ADC’s State Advisers Council. State organizations take on a gamut of responsibilities to carry out their primary mission serving as a focal point to coordinate statewide efforts for promoting, preserving and providing mission support to military installations; attracting new missions; serving as the liaison between state government and installation officials; and fostering growth of the state’s defense sector.
Some of the most common responsibilities include:
    •  engaging community-based advocacy organizations;
    •  working with local governments and installations to eliminate land use conflicts;
    •  supporting state legislative initiatives;
    •  coordinating a state military advisory council;
    •  administering grants to communities;
    •  lobbying the federal government; and
    •  improving the quality of life for military personnel, their families and veterans.
The majority of state organizations are small, 68 percent, and carry out their duties on budgets of less than $500,000. Survey respondents have an average of two full-time equivalent employees working on base retention and related activities, according to the report.
Most state organizations, 68 percent, play an active role in encroachment planning, including participating in joint land use studies and enacting legislation regarding land use outside installations. Almost as many, 64 percent, provide financial support for local efforts to mitigate encroachment; in many cases, those investments are significant.
Measured by dollars, states’ most significant investments in support of military installations, though, come in the form of infrastructure projects, both on- and off-base. Perhaps the most surprising discovery of the study is that 50 percent of responding states have funded on-base infrastructure, with the majority of those projects costing several million dollars or more. Meanwhile, 59 percent of the states have funded off-base infrastructure, including road improvements, and new schools and housing.
Most states, 82 percent, are helping their defense communities cultivate partnerships with their local installations, particularly following the enactment of a new authority in the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill allowing installations and communities to share a variety of municipal services. Thirty-seven percent of states provide funding to advance partnerships.
Most states also dedicate resources — and in one-third of the states, funding — to reinforce host community efforts to support neighboring installations.