The largest number of military facilities in Virginia are the National Guard armories. The National Guard is the state militia, serving under the command of the governor except when it is federalized. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many National Guard units were mobilized and sent overseas.
Units were reorganized and relocated at the start of the 21st Century, integrating the National Guard into war-fighting plans. The Virginia Air National Guard was established in 1947, and has two units in Virginia. The 203rd Red Horse Squadron is based at Virginia Beach. What today is the 192nd Fighter Wing was based at Sandston until 2007. It shifted its base from Richmond International Airport to Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, when its pilots transitioned from flying the F-16 Falcon to the F-22 Raptor:1
Some military facilities in Virginia are Federal - the Pentagon, the Norfolk Naval Base, Fort A.P Hill, etc. The personnel and contracts associated with those facilities are economically significant. The high-tech service economy of Northern Virginia developed in part because the Pentagon hired contractors to provide information technology services.
Maintaining Federally-funded military bases is a priority objective for Virginia's elected officials. Since the start of the Cold War, all US Senators from Virginia - no matter what their political party - have opposed shifting any aircraft carriers away from Norfolk to Florida or West Coast bases. Each ship based at the Norfolk Naval Base helps to stimulate the local economy.
The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process threatened to close the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach in 2005. Local officials had rezoned property near the air base to allow housing and commercial development, resulting in higher risk if a jet experienced a problem during landing or takeoff.
In the consolidation of military bases during the BRAC process, Pentagon officials sought to move fighter squadrons to facilities where costs of operations could be lowered. The cost of an accident at Oceana, in both human lives and money, were increasing as development increased near the flight paths, and the BRAC commission proposed moving the fighter jets at Oceana to Cecil Field, Florida unless the city reduced the risk by limiting development.
The city objected to the claims of BRAC commissioners that incompatible uses had been authorized by rezonings over the last 30 years. Instead, the city claimed that the Navy had expanded the map of accident potential zones after rezoning had occurred, except in 4% of the new residential units that had been authorized after 1975.
Virginia Beach and state officials responded to the military concerns regarding encroachment. The city and the Navy completed a Joint Land Use Study, the city committed to acquire lands to block development in Accident Potential Zone 1 (APZ-1), the state agreed to supply partial funding for purchasing land, and the Master Jet Base remained open.2
A similar effort in the City of Chesapeake was designed to preserve the usability of Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field. The Fentress Airfield Overlay District defines a zone between Fentress and Oceana where development will be limited through land purchases and rezoning decisions by the cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. New houses within that zone would trigger new noise complaints, as jets practicing takeoffs and landings.
In 2013, the City of Chesapeake approved construction of 31 houses near Fentress, triggering such a negative response by the Navy that the city quickly rescinded its decision and agreed to discourage development on properties which experience and average sound level of 65-decibel to 70-decibels.3
development rights for much of the area near Oceana NAS were established prior to 1975 (brown), while some areas (red) were rezoned after Accident Potential Zone 1 was defined
Source: The Truth About Encroachment
the 1710th Transportation Company from Emporia returned from Afghanistan in February, 2014
Source: Virginia National Guard
1. "History," Virginia Air National Guard 192D Fighter Wing, http://www.192fw.ang.af.mil/history/history.asp; "Serving Commonwealth and Country - Transformation and Out of State Duty (2005-Present)," Virginia National Guard, http://vko.va.ngb.army.mil/VirginiaGuard/history/overview.html#transformation (last checked June 21, 2014)
2. "The Truth About Encroachment," Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, and BRAC website, http://www.bracresponse.com/the_truth.pdf (last checked June 20, 2014)
3. "Council changes mind; no new homes near Fentress," The Virginian-Pilot, March 20, 2013, http://hamptonroads.com/2013/03/council-changes-mind-no-new-homes-near-fentress (last checked June 20, 2014)