Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, South Carolina


The last C-17 arrives at Charleston AFB. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force; photo credit: Staff Sgt. Marie Brown

Charleston Air Force Base and Navy Weapons Station, Charleston, combined to become Joint Base Charleston established in accordance with congressional legislation implementing the recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The legislation ordered the consolidation of facilities which were adjoining, but separate military installations, into a single Joint Base, one of 12 formed in the United States as a result of the law.  In October 2010, Joint Base Charleston was considered to have Full Operational Capability under the jurisdiction of the United States Air Force 628th Air Base Wing, Air Mobility Command (AMC).

The information further provided relates to Joint Base Charleston - Air Base.

Joint Base Charleston - Air Base is located about 10 miles from downtown Charleston, South Carolina, on approximately 3,400 acres of land within the North Charleston city limits in Charleston County. The base is located in the heart of the Lowcountry, in historic South Carolina. With a rich military history and a moderate cost of living, the area has attracted many military retirees to the area. The greater metropolitan region has a population of 500,000 and the installation enjoys a positive relationship with the surrounding communities.

Apart from its heavy airdrop commitment and a demanding humanitarian mission, the Joint Base Charleston - Air Base mission requirements range from supporting U.S. Embassies to supplying humanitarian airlift relief to victims of disasters, to airdropping troops into the heart of contingency operations in hostile areas.

Location/Driving Directions

A joint civil-military airport, Joint Base Charleston - Air Base shares runways with Charleston International Airport (which services the tri-county area) for commercial airline aircraft operations on the south side of the airfield and general aviation aircraft operations on the east side.

There are no military shuttles or mass transit that runs from the airport to Joint Base Charleston - Air Base. Rental cars are available on-site, and commercial transportation is available from the airport to the base via taxi.

Yellow Cab taxi service is available from the airport to Joint Base Charleston - Air Base. Yellow Cab taxi is the only taxi service authorized to pick people up from off base and drop them off at their final destination on base. The number for Yellow Cab is 843-577-6565.

If driving from Charleston International Airport, take the access road to Michaux Parkway and turn right. Proceed to Dorchester Road at the intersection (light) turn right onto Dorchester Road. The Main Gate is approximately 1.5 miles on the right on Dorchester Road.

From I-95 take, I-26 East to Aviation Avenue, exit 211 (East Aviation). Proceed a short distance on E. Aviation to Perimeter Road and turn Right. Follow Perimeter Road to the "Rivers" Gate.

Upon arriving at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, introduction information can be provided at either base gate or at the base lodging office. This information covers key facilities and phone numbers a newcomer should find helpful. The Inns of Charleston (lodging) on Hill Boulevard is the 24-hour arrival point. Those arriving after normal duty hours, on a holiday, or weekend should report there to sign in.

Newcomers arriving on weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. must turn in their inprocessing package (a large sealed envelope) and a copy of your orders at the Military Personnel Flight (MPF) Force Support Section (Building 503, Room 112) on the day of arrival.

Main Phone Numbers

Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Klemme. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

Main Phone Numbers (Area Code 843)

Airman & Family Readiness Center - 963-4406

Base Operator - 963-1110 / DSN 673-1110

Child Development Center - 963-4366 DSN: 673-4366

Dental Appointments/Sick Call - 963-6842

Education Center - 963-4575

FAMCAMP - 963-1672 / 963-1732

Family Child Care - Main Desk - 963-2546

Family Health Clinic - 963-6880

Fitness & Sports Center - 963-3347

Medical - Air Base Appointment Hotline - 963-6880

Housing Management Office - 963-3858

Lodging Office, Front Desk - 963-3806 / 552-9900 DSN: 673-3806

School Liaison Officer - 963-4438 / DSN 312-963-4438

Population/Major Units Assigned

Expeditionary combat skills training. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force; photo credit: Senior Airman Katie Gieratz

The Joint Base Charleston area encompasses more than 20,000 active-duty, Reserve and civilian personnel, spanning across its Air Base and Weapons Station. 

Joint Base Charleston - Air Base is home to the 628th Air Base Wing (628 ABW), the host wing for installation support. The 628th ABW's primary duties are to provide installation support  to (essentially serving  as “landlord” for) 53 Department of Defense and Federal agencies, servicing a total force of over 80,000 Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilians, dependents and retirees on Joint Base Charleston and Naval Weapons Station Charleston.

The 628th Air Base Wing is comprised of two operational groups and a wing staff directorate:

· 628th Mission Support Group provides programs, policies, services, and facilities to a combined military/civilian force of 7,300 personnel in support of the 628th Airbase Wing and both 437th & 315th Airlift Wings. The multi-service mission for Joint Base Charleston consist of communications, contracting, supply, transportation, logistical support, civil engineering, personnel, security, law enforcement, family support, and morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) services.

· 628th Medical Group provides quality managed healthcare for 36K eligible beneficiaries while executing $12M budget. Ensures wing personnel are medically prepared for deployments. Supports mobility processing lines. Trains/deploys personnel for maximum wartime readiness. Supports 250-bed theater hospital and deployable rapid response staging facility teams. Employs medical personnel/equipment for initial response to in-garrison chemical, biological, radiological & nuclear events.

· 628th Airlift Wing Staff includes a variety of agencies that directly support the wing commander and the installation.

· Several Air Force tenant units also share the base; 437th Airlift Wing; 315th Airlift Wing (Air Reserve Command); 1st Combat Camera Squadron; Air Force Office of Special Investigation; and 373rd Training Squadron, Air Education Training Command

The 437th Airlift Wing (437 AW) operates the C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft in support of its mission to provide airlift of troops and passengers, military equipment, cargo, and aeromedical equipment and supplies worldwide in accordance with tasking by Air Mobility Command and unified combatant commanders.

In addition, the USAF Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol Coastal Charleston Composite Squadron is also assigned to Joint Base Charleston.

The Support Activity has expanded its mission and Department of Defense support role with tenant commands, and today is a training center, with the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC), Nuclear Power Training Unit, Propulsion Facility, and Border Patrol satellite academy; Naval Consolidated Brig, Charleston; Mobile Mine Assembly Unit; Explosive Ordnance Detachments; Marine Corps Reserve Center; an engineering complex, with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR, this is the largest employer in the Charleston area) and is close to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast; 269 above-ground ammunition magazines, maintenance and storage of military ordnance including mines, and serves as an Army logistics hub, the busiest continental United States surface port in the defense transportation system. In addition, NWS Charleston contains more than 1,800 on-base houses for Navy enlisted and officer dependents as well as Coast Guard dependents and has a child care facility, elementary and middle schools.

Temporary Lodging

Base lodging office. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

On-base temporary lodging:

Inns of Charleston / Air Force Inns

The Inns of Charleston is located on the base on Hill Boulevard, Bldg. 362 across from the Fitness Center. Phone: (843) 963-8000 DSN: 673-8000 E-mail address for reservations and general information:

Temporary Lodging Facility (TLF) units are in close proximity. There are four pet-friendly TLFs available for an additional $10.00 daily fee reserved on a first-come, first served basis.

Limited special needs units are available.

If on-base lodging is not available, lodging can assist you in making recommendations for local hotel / motel reservations. Off-base temporary lodging is plentiful - just make sure that the cost is within your per diem range. Many of the hotels accept pets.

 Single members, E4 and below with less than three years active duty, will be assigned a dormitory room upon arrival.

During normal duty hours single enlisted or geographically separated enlisted members should contact their Orderly Room for assignment to a dormitory room. After duty hours they should check with the Lodging Office and the clerk will assist them in contacting their dorm manager/First Sergeant for dorm rooms. Charleston AFB does not have Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) or Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQ).

The closest off-base hotels are about 3 miles east of the Base near I-526 at International Blvd. More hotels and motels are further north and east of the Base along I-26.


SrA Base Housing. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

At Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, military family housing is privatized. Forest City manages and operates family housing and is responsible for maintaining, repairing, constructing and managing the community. In addition to your option to purchase and rent housing in the local community, you now may choose to live in privatized housing by signing a tenant lease agreement with Forest City. 

Joint Base Charleston - Air Base does not have a mobile home park.

Contact the Housing Management Office as soon as you know you are moving to Joint Base Charleston. The government housing team will provide you the latest information about privatized housing and details about the application process. The HMO will also update you on any base specific policies regarding residing in privatized housing.

Rooms are available for junior enlisted personnel (E1-E4). Contact your gaining organization for their dormitory policy and to obtain a room. Make sure your sponsor knows your arrival plans so that a dormitory room can be assigned and help alleviate the cost of obtaining lodging your first night at Charleston. The best thing to do is to be sure to ask your sponsor to get a dorm room assigned before you arrive and for them to pick up the key if you will be arriving during non-duty hours. If you arrive at Charleston after normal duty hours and your sponsor does not meet you, sign in at the Inns of Charleston (Lodging) and they will contact your unit and/or sponsor.

The Family Advocacy Office works closely with the Housing Office to provide appropriate housing support for Special Needs Families. Families should contact their Special Needs Coordinator well in advance of PCS.

Pet Policy is outlined in either the Tenant Lease Agreement or the Tenant Handbook, pets are not mentioned in the Forest City Military Rental Application, nor on its website.

Prior to privatization, though, two (2) pets per household were allowed in base housing, with certain requirements to have been met before a pet was legally allowed to stay on base.  Presuming those conditions remain, they are: (1) Pet(s) must be registered on base; (2) Pet(s) must be current on rabies vaccinations; (3) Owners must be able to control their pet(s). All dogs and cats must be registered within 10 days after being brought on base. To register your pet, you must go to the Veterinary Treatment Facility, Mon-Fri, and present a current rabies certificate. If your pet(s) receives a rabies vaccination at the base veterinary facility, registration is automatic. Pets such as hamsters, gerbils, fish, and birds do not need to be registered. Exotic pets such as snakes, turtles, etc., must have the approval of the Mission Support Group Commander. Hoofed animals (livestock and exotic pets such as pot-bellied pigs, miniature horses, pygmy goats, etc.) are not allowed on base.

Joint Base Charleston - Air Base does not have long-term (BOQ/BEQ) housing on base for Senior NCOs or Officers. For more information contact the Lodging Office.

Child Care

Child Development Center. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

Charleston Child Development Center (CDC) is located in building 1950 and can be reached by calling 843-963-4366.

The Joint Base Charleston - Air Base Child Development Program is a nationally accredited program certified by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and offers top quality developmental child care services for the base's youngest members.

Care offered includes developmental and educational care for older infants, toddlers and preschool children ranging in age from 6 months to 5 years.

The CDC is open Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and Holidays the center is closed. Children can stay in care from opening until closing.

Also offered is Hourly on a space available basis for those needing occasional care during operational hours. Ages for hourly care are 12 months to 5 years.  Parents needing hourly care must call in advance to make reservations based on availability. Hourly care patrons must follow specific guidelines available at the CDC.

Child development programs are available for dependents of active duty military, Department of Defense Civilians and Non-Appropriated Fund Civilian Employees, on a first come, first serve basis.

Personnel relocating to Joint Base Charleston - Air Base who have a need for Child Development Center (CDC) services can pre-register their children. Upon receipt of your orders, contact your local CDC for an application. Forward copy of orders and application for pre-registration to the Charleston CDC and your children go on the waiting list effective the date information is received.

Once you have arrived, parents may register their children for care at the CDC, Youth Program or Family Child Care by using a DD Form 2606.

Family Child Care Providers are available as an alternative to the CDC. There are providers both on and off base. Providers are able to care for children age 2 weeks - 12 years who are dependents of active duty military, active reservists, retirees and DOD civilians assigned to Joint Base Charleston - Air Base. For more information call the FCC Coordinator, at (843) 963-2546, DSN 673-2546. The FCC provider can provide you with a current list of Family Child Care Providers.

The New Parent Support Program (NPSP) offers information, support and guidance to military families who are expecting a child and/or have children ages birth to three years of age. Services are provided free of charge to eligible families. For more information, contact the NPSP at 843-963-6787 Phone (DSN) 312-673-6787.

School-age programs, priority for care and waiting list information changes based on local circumstances/conditions. Contact the child care center for this information.

The Child Care for PCS program offers 20 hours of free child care to families with PCS orders. Child Care is provided through the Family Child Care Providers and must be used within 60 days of departure/arrival. This program is open to all ranks.

The CDC is open one Saturday per month from 1-5pm for Give Parents a Break Program. Referrals for this program may be obtained from your commander, First Sergeant, Family Support/Family Advocacy, Chaplain, Medical Group, CDC, CDC employees, and Youth Program. There is no cost for this program.


Lambs Elementary School (Charleston County). Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

There are no DODD schools; if you live on base your children will attend Charleston County schools. Students must attend school in the county they reside. Under the provisions of 'No Child Left Behind' middle and high school students living on base may request a transfer to another approved school in the Charleston County School District. Transportation is provided. Please contact the school liaison officer for more detailed information on this process.

Children of military members attend schools in the surrounding Charleston, Dorchester II, and Berkeley County School full range of educational programs, i.e., vocational and technical training, traditional academic programs, athletics, classes for gifted students and students with special needs. Before and after school programs are available at several elementary schools. School starts in mid-August and ends early June for most schools. There are approximately 134 public schools and 32 private schools in the tri-county area.

While living in TLF (unless you can show proof of future residency in another county), or if you reside in base housing, your children will attend Charleston County School District schools, i.e., Lambs Elementary, Hunley Park Elementary, Morningside Middle (uniforms required), and North Charleston High.

Waivers for intra-school transfers within the Charleston County School District are another option for some parents of middle school or high school students to consider. In your sponsor packet, there is a valuable checklist for parents of school-age children that will assist them in making important school decisions. If you have a Lease/Rental Agreement or purchase a home (proof of residency) and have an address, you will be permitted to register your children with the school that services your residence while you are still in TLF. You will have to provide transportation until you move to your new residence.

Charleston County has several public MAGNET Schools. They have elementary schools, including a Montessori school, Charleston County School of the Arts (6-12), Military Magnet Academy (6-12), and a nationally ranked and highly-acclaimed Academic Magnet High School (9-12) ranked one of the top 10 schools in the nation). Dorchester County has Rollings Middle School of the Arts (6-8).

Greater Charleston, the tri-county area, has a long list of private and parochial schools.

The focal point for all adult education programs on Charleston AFB is the Base Education Center. The Education Center offers a wide range of educational services and programs to help people fulfill their educational goals. See the Advanced Education topic in this category for more information.

School registration requires immunizations and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control provided the following information to the State Department of Education. According to the director of DHEC's Division of Immunization, new immunization requirements include the Varicella vaccine (chickenpox) for all children admitted to five-year-old kindergarten and first grade. However, if a child's medical record indicates a positive history of chickenpox, the immunization is not required, but that history also must be recorded on the S.C. Certificate of Immunization. (The S.C. Certificate of Immunization form must be used.) These certificates are available from local physicians, military treatment facilities, as well as local DHEC public health departments. Children entering the fourth and tenth grades must have begun the three-shot series of hepatitis B vaccine. Combined with previous requirements, this means that all children entering kindergarten through fourth, and seventh through tenth grades must have the hepatitis B vaccine. The state law requiring the immunizations means "no shots, no school." For more information, call DHEC's toll-free immunization line at 1-800-27-SHOTS.

Children who will be five years of age on or before September 1 must enroll in a public or private kindergarten program unless the parent or legal guardian signs a waiver or chooses to home school their child under the guidelines of South Carolina law. Waiver forms are available at your local school. By state law, students must be in school from age five to 17. When registering your child, you will need to bring: Child's birth certificate (kindergarten and first grade only), the child's properly completed immunization certificate and the child's Social Security card.

Medical Care

Charleston AFB Clinic. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

The 628th Medical Group is the Lowcountry's preferred medical facility with highly trained and skilled staff delivering superior healthcare, anytime, anywhere.

The clinic serves over 12,000 enrollees and 62,000 eligible beneficiaries on and around Joint Base Charleston.

All emergencies should be addressed by calling 911 or reporting to the nearest civilian hospital emergency room since there is not an emergency room on base. They will refer you to the closest emergency room. Prime patients should contact their PCMs within 24 hours after emergency treatment to get the treatment authorized.

Clinic hours are 7:30 am until 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Patient care is by appointment only.  The clinic is closed on the first Wednesday afternoon of each month for training.

The 628th Medical Group is part of the Department of Defense Composite Health Care System (CHCS), which is a computer link between local military medical facilities. Since all medical appointments are made through this computer system, patients must be registered in CHCS in order to make appointments. Patients can register in CHCS by coming into the Managed Care Flight Office. In our network, we provide for almost all specialties in the community.

Appointments can be made through the Central Appointments Desk at 843-963-6880 up to three weeks in advance. Patients with scheduled appointments are asked to arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled time to check in and fill out any necessary paperwork before seeing the health care provider.