Preparing for Duty

Jennifer Schultz 4/9/2018

State Policy Options to Sustain Military Installations

Photo of fighter jetsRoughly 1.3 million people currently serve in the U.S. armed forces, 22 million more are veterans and  420 military installations exist in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. U.S. military operations touch every state in some way, and state legislatures are playing an increasingly substantial role in military issues.

Military installations—which may also be referred to as bases, camps, posts, stations, yards or centers—are facilities that sustain the presence of U.S. forces at home and abroad. Installations located within the United States and its territories are used to train and deploy troops, maintain weapons systems and care for the wounded. Installations also support military service members and their families by providing housing, health care, child care and on-base education. The Department of Defense (DoD) contributes billions of dollars each year to state economies through the operation of military installations. The impact of this spending is felt across the state, in salaries and benefits paid to military personnel and retirees, defense contracts and tax revenues.

PDF | Download the Full Report

Recent events such as the drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, federal budget cuts and potential rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) have contributed to uncertainty over the future role and sustainability of military installations. State legislatures are critical in managing relations between the military and surrounding communities, especially in regard to issues related to military base or mission change, growing local development and incompatible land uses that may threaten the military’s ability to operate effectively.

This report—produced by NCSL with support from the DoD Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations and Environment)—highlights the impact of the military on state economies and provides state policy options to support military-community cooperation and address land use challenges that may arise as the buffer between military and civilian areas narrows. The strategies presented in the report are intended to help states secure the future of their military installations and ensure that communities continue to benefit from the jobs and business opportunities the military provides. Topics covered include:

  • Military advisory bodies.
  • Commanders councils.
  • Funding and financing programs to enhance the value of military installations.
  • Enhanced communication with the military on proposed land use changes.
  • Compatible land use requirements.
  • Protecting land around a military installation for agriculture or other purposes.
  • Energy development compatibility with the military mission.
  • Reducing light pollution.
  • Limiting noise impacts from military activities.
  • Real estate disclosure.
  • Shared services agreements.