Joint Base San Antonio Community
Joint Base San Antonio
San Antonio, home to Joint Base San Antonio, is the second-largest city in Texas and 150 miles southeast of the state’s geographic center. For motorists, JBSA is 275 miles southwest of Dallas on Interstate 35, 545 miles west of New Orleans, 1,245 miles southwest of Chicago, 470 miles south of Oklahoma City and 1,354 miles southeast of Lost Angeles.
With its three separate major installations, Joint Base San Antonio is the military’s largest joint base in terms of population. The Army’s Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base and Randolph Air Force Base comprise a total of 82,010 active duty, Department of Defense and civilian personnel, according to the most recent count by Military One Source. Fort Sam Houston had 48,415 dependents, Randolph had 5,291 and Lackland combined its dependents with contract employees for 11,744. In addition, 55,000 military retirees had made their homes in the area and there were 107,466 veterans, the San Antonio Military Economic Impact Study found.
Joint Base San Antonio has a total area of about 49,631 acres (Fort Sam Houston, 3,000; Camp Bullis, its associated training area northwest of town, 28,000; Lackland AFB, 14,400; and Randolph AFB, 4,231). JBSA has more active runways and serves more DOD students than any other installation and has the DOD’s sole Level 1 trauma center and its largest in-patient hospital, the 2-million-square-foot San Antonio Military Medical Center. The installations lie along a southwest to northeast diagonal across the city: Lackland is in the southwest corner, just south of U.S. 90; Fort Sam Houston is just to the northeast of San Antonio’s midpoint, with I-35 to the south; and Randolph, in the northeast, is just south of the San Antonio suburb of Universal City, with Texas Highway 78 skirting its northern border.
About Joint Base San Antonio
The U.S. Air Force is the lead agency for JBSA, which was formed Oct. 1, 2010, with the merger of the three primary military installations in San Antonio that made JBSA the largest joint U.S. base among the 12 in the Department of Defense. The joint base includes eight other operating sites and more than 200 mission partners. Installation support services are handled by the 502nd Air Base Wing, headquartered at JBSA-Sam Houston, and include security, civil engineering, communications, public affairs, logistics, contracting, safety, and plans and programs. They are carried out by the wing’s three Mission Support Groups, one for each base.
At JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Brooke Army Medical Center’s healing pedigree stretches back to 1879. Now, that tiny post hospital has grown into the Department of Defense’s busiest, largest medical center with 10 separate organizations that center on San Antonio Military Medical Center, the inpatient hospital known as the SAMMC. It is the DOD’s largest and has 425 inpatient beds, 32 operating rooms, a rooftop helipad, emergency radiology and CT scan capabilities, and 40 beds dedicated to the Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center. Brooke providers care for more than 4,000 patients daily at six outpatient clinics. Its Center for the Intrepid, an extremity injury rehab center, is surrounded by four Fisher Houses that offer free or low-cost housing for families of veterans undergoing treatment. In 2011, both the U.S. Navy and Air Force moved their medical training operations to Fort Sam Houston, and Brooke’s mission was expanded to medical training for all the services.
JBSA-Lackland, “Gateway to the Air Force,” provides basic training for all new service airmen in the active-duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. Once airmen complete basic training, they receive additional specialty training from one of six technical training squadrons in fields from pararescue to military working dog handling, aviation to cryptology. Anti-terrorism teams also are trained at Lackland, and its Defense Language Institute English Language Center gives students from 117 countries the opportunity to improve their English-language proficiency.
JBSA-Randolph, “Showplace of the Air Force,” got its nickname from its Spanish-style buildings dating from the late 1920s. Randolph is home to more than 30 Defense Department units, including the Air Education and Training Command, which oversees all U.S. Air Force training missions; the Air Force Personnel Center, which is the service’s Human Resources division; and its host unit, the 12th Flying Training Wing. Since its opening in 1931, Randolph has trained aviators, these days on the T-6A Texan II, a two-seater single-engine turboprop for basic instruction; the T-38C Talon, the world’s first supersonic trainer; and the T-1A Jayhawk, a twin-engine medium-range jet trainer for advanced students.
The San Antonio Military Economic Impact Study commissioned by the city, the most recent available, found that JBSA’s total impact on the local economy was $27.7 billion in fiscal 2011. In 2014, a JBSA briefing noted that the three installations had an $8.1 billion annual payroll and were responsible for 292,456 direct and indirect jobs.
Defense contracts went to almost every economic sector, the impact study found, including cybersecurity and IT; aerospace; bioscience and health care; natural resources, mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction; construction; trade, transportation and warehousing; retail; and manufacturing.
In addition, more than 55,000 retirees from the four services and retired Defense Department civilians in the area received a total of nearly $1.5 billion in monthly paychecks every year.
How Joint Base San Antonio came to be
With congressional approval and President George W. Bush’s signature, money-saving recommendations from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission took effect in 2005. The commission consolidated the three major military facilities in San Antonio — the Army’s Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base and Randolph AFB — into a single joint base, Joint Base San Antonio, to eliminate duplicated support services. JBSA is one of a dozen such U.S. bases created by the law.
Three mission support groups from the Air Force’s 502nd Air Base Wing give installation support to the three entities, which were formally merged on Oct. 1, 2010. The 502nd Wing commander serves as the commander for the joint base. Each installation, though, maintains its individuality, customs and pride.
JBSA GENERAL INFORMATION
Contact your sponsor and let them know your estimated arrival time and flight information, if applicable, before you arrive at Joint Base San Antonio.
Sponsorship is vital to a successful relocation. Don’t PCS without talking with your sponsor before departing for JBSA. Your sponsor will answer any questions about the base and the local area, make lodging or dorm arrangements and meet you upon arrival. Your sponsor will be there to help you and your family until you settle into your new community.
If you have not been in touch with a sponsor and your departure is nearing, contact your gaining unit or call the Military and Family Readiness Center:
- 210-221-2705 (JBSA-Fort Sam Houston)
- 210-671-3722 (JBSA-Lackland)
- 210-652-5321 (JBSA-Randolph)
You can also email your contact information and arrival date to: USAF.firstname.lastname@example.org (JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Randolph) or email@example.com (JBSA-Lackland).
Vehicles no longer have to be registered with Joint Base San Antonio, but all must be insured and have current license plates. Texas traffic laws apply on all the installations, and any vehicle entering or leaving the installations is subject to search.
Cellphone use by the driver of a moving motor vehicle is prohibited on all Department of Defense installations, unless the cellphone is used with a hands-free device.
See the Getting to & Around San Antonio chapter on Page 62 for more information.