FORT LEWIS, Wash. - More than 200 representatives from Department of Defense installations participated in the first Joint Base Implementation Review Conference held at Fort Lewis' American Lake Community Center June 23 to 27.

Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base are among 26 installations combining to form 12 joint bases by the year 2011.

The joint bases will be installation support platforms for war-fighters and global missions.

According to Air Force Col. Kenny Weldon, DOD joint basing program manager, the federally mandated plan affects nearly 500,000 military and civilian workers.

He said the figure will nearly double when families and retirees are added.

"Twenty-six bases will become 12, supporting more than a million people when you add families, retirees and contractors," said Weldon.

He noted that the task of combining so many bases is complex; however, time, resources and manpower are devoted to ensuring that joint basing meets the 2011 deadline.

"There are many complex details to overcome, but we are committed to the success of joint basing - it will succeed," said Weldon.

Weldon pointed out that Fort Lewis and McChord have a history as a joint base.

"Fort Lewis began in 1917 with McChord Field following in 1938, That's really the genesis of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the two installations have been working together ever since," said Weldon.

Several topics were discussed over the course of the conference. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the effects of joint basing on human resources, common themes, working groups and progress reports from all 12 of the soon-to-be joint bases.

The conference was hosted by Wayne Arny, deputy under secretary of defense for installations and environment. Arny is a career Navy aviator and federal government administrator with more than 40 years service to the nation. He is responsible for military installations worldwide. Additionally, Arny is the DOD's senior real property officer and the department's representative to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Garrison Commander Col. Cynthia Murphy and McChord Air Force Base's director of Joint Base Lewis-McChord Initiative, Col. Shane Hershman, commented on the benefits the conference will have for up-coming Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"This conference is just what we need as we begin the next phase of developing Joint Base Lewis-McChord," said Murphy.

"Up to this point, the guidance from the Defense Department gave us a generic framework for creating all 12 joint bases. We now need to complete the details of an agreement with Air Force units at McChord between now and next summer to integrate our installation support services. The conference helps us to better understand the common issues, design the unique requirements of our joint base and make sure it supports all of our war-fighting units." said Murphy.

Hershman described the cooperative nature of joint base planning between McChord and Fort Lewis.

"On the battlefield in the global war on terror, our combined services blend to make our great military force even better," said Hershman.

"The successes we've seen are a direct reflection of our joint force, which the dedicated Soldiers and Airmen on what will soon be known as Joint Base Lewis-McChord are to be proud of. McChord and Fort Lewis have been working closely since 2005 to build Joint Base Lewis-McChord. We are excited to hone our joint base planning at this conference," said Hershman.

Commanders of installations becoming joint bases presented reports on the progress of integrating their bases. The conference highlighted major issues to be resolved by the joint base planners at all levels from local installations to the Defense Department. Participants learned approaches to solutions from other installations and DOD planners identified higher level issues that might require policy revisions.

The next conference is scheduled later this year in October at San Antonio.

John Austin, director of the Fort Lewis Plans, Analysis and Integration Office, said several Fort Lewis organizations and employees were responsible for the success-ful planning and execution of conference.

"Our entire garrison workforce pulled together to support this conference," said Austin. "I want to thank everyone from all of our directorates for their great support. This conference show-cased the world-class teamwork all our employees, Soldiers and civilians alike, display every day," said Austin.

The implementation of the 12 joint bases will occur in two phases. The first implementation phase of five joint bases will begin January 31 and end September 30, 2010. The second phase, which includes Joint Base Lewis-McChord, begins January 31 and ends September 30, 2010. All joint bases must be operational by September 15, 2011.

Rich Bartell and Joe Jimenez work in the Fort Lewis Public Affairs Office