Improvements to Air Force Strategic Basing Decisions
RAND PROJECT AIR FORCE SANTA MONICA CA SANTA MONICA United States
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The U.S. Air Force manages any proposed significant changes and additions regarding the location of weapon systems and personnel through its strategic basing process, and the Air Force has conducted more than 100 strategic basing decisions since 2009. Some notable recent examples of strategic basing decisions are the evaluations of which installations will host the F-35 and KC-46A major weapon systems. Air Force basing decisions are public, frequent, and occasionally contentious. Because these decisions affect force posture, local economies, and public trust, it is imperative that the decision-making process be objective and reproducible. The Air Force employs a three-step enterprise-wide process to ensure consistency when it makes basing decisions. In the first step, a set of criteria is developed to evaluate an installations suitability to support a basing decision. The basing decision criteria are developed by the applicable major command MAJCOM, approved by the Headquarters Air Force HAF and the Secretary of the Air Force SecAF, and briefed to Congress. In the second step, individual basing scores for the defined criteria are assembled by the MAJCOM, and a small set of candidate bases, usually four to six, is selected for site surveys. In the final step, a preferred base is selected. The results of each step are approved by HAF and SecAF and briefed to Congress. The credibility of this process is dependent on these data calls resulting in high-quality data that are then analyzed in a transparent and objective manner.