Know Your Military

DOD Office Helps Military Communities Adapt to Change

May 9, 2019 | BY David Vergun

Since 1961, the Defense Department's Office of Economic Adjustment has helped local communities across the U.S. adapt to DOD program changes, expansions and cutbacks, as well as incompatibilities between military operations and local development.

Sailors hold an indoor ceremony.
Liberty Station
Sailors hold a ceremony at Liberty Station, formerly known as Naval Training Center San Diego, Sept. 15, 2017. When most of the base closed in 1997, the Office of Economic Adjustment helped the local community attract 5,183 jobs. Liberty Station employs 13 times more people than the NTC did when it closed, according to OEA.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Devin M. Langer
VIRIN: 170915-N-LI768-0082C

Many communities across the country have close ties with defense and military programs. Some communities are home to military bases or installations, while others have private sector manufacturers supplying defense contractors. Regardless of the relationship, when a defense program change occurs, it can have a major impact on the local and regional communities.

OEA hosted an "Industry Resilience" series of panel discussions with representatives from state and local governments, industry and academia from around the U.S., in Arlington, Va.

Impacts on Communities

Communities around military bases rely on the base to underpin economic development. A base closure poses significant challenges to those communities.

A reduction or increase in forces can impact everything from traffic patterns to school enrollment and business stability.

People stand in an empty hangar
Opening Ceremony
Marines and sailors prepare for the 2015 Orange County Veteran’s Day Stand Down Opening Ceremony inside Hangar No. 2 at former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin, Calif., Oct. 23, 2015. After MCAS Tustin closed in 1999, the Office of Economic Adjustment helped the local community adjust with retail, residences, parks and offices. The redeveloped site employs 10 times more civilians than it did at base closure, according to OEA.
Photo By: Marine Corps photo
VIRIN: 151025-M-ZZ999-004C

Once a military base closes, a large amount of land may remain unused.

Sometimes the defense mission changes — this can cause serious impacts throughout the region as communities address the new mission.

When budgets are cut and contracts end, unemployment and displacement become a concern in the private sector.

How OEA Helps Communities

1
OEA works closely with state and community leaders to identify and provide connections to federal resources.
Firefighters look at a demolished building.
Scene Survey
Firefighters from the Brunswick Fire Department survey the scene of a collapsed building during training at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, Nov. 5, 2013. The training was part of Vigilant Guard, a large-scale civilian and military exercise. When the base closed in 2011, the Office of Economic Adjustment helped the local community adjust by helping the community create new jobs. There are now 149% more civilian jobs compared with those lost at base closure, and that growth is continuing, according to OEA.
Photo By: Maine Army National Guard Sgt. Angela Parady
VIRIN: 131105-A-SC231-002C
2
OEA works with state and local governments to provide resources to distressed communities.
Truck fords river
Bridge Bay
Marines with Bridge Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, use a Logistics Vehicle System Replacement truck to drop bridge bays in the Arkansas River at Fort Chaffee, Ark., July 18, 2018. When most of the Army installation closed in 1995, the Office of Economic Adjustment helped the local community redevelop the site, bringing in 3,500 new jobs to replace the 146 civilian jobs lost at closure, according to OEA.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Quentarius Johnson
VIRIN: 180718-M-CQ544-0997C
3
OEA connects communities to a number of associations, think tanks, and advocacy organizations that can provide assistance.
Workers sample drinking water
Drinking Water
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center sample the drinking water at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Mich., Aug. 1, 2017. When the base closed in 1993, the Office of Economic Adjustment helped the local community develop a mixed-use site that employs 1,660 workers, more than doubling the jobs lost at closure, according to OEA.
Photo By: Breanne Humphreys, Air Force
VIRIN: 170801-F-VL172-012C