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The Military’s Importance to the Cumberland Valley


The Cumberland Valley is well known for its scenic wonders and historic streets — streets that paved the way for America’s earliest won battles. The resolve and impact of the U.S. military in the Valley have only strengthened since the days of the Revolutionary War. Today, some of the nation’s top military leaders and decision-makers spend time here, working on staying mission-focused.

The Cumberland Valley has a few military bases that provide spaces for service members to live, work and learn. Facilities such as the Defense Logistics Agency at Susquehanna, Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg and the United States Army War College and Barracks in Carlisle serve critical roles for the U.S. armed forces and the communities they call home. While national security is of most importance, strategic positioning, military resources, workforce, and integrated community all make the impact of the military’s role in the Cumberland Valley that much more robust.

Military Installations Help Communities Thrive

The Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission approached Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) in 2014 to establish a Cumberland York Area Local Defense Group (CYALDG). The CYALDG’s responsibility is to coordinate, advocate, develop and implement recommendations to enhance the military value of the installations in the area. CAEDC acts as the designated administrator for the CYALDG.

The CYALDG recognizes the tremendous impact a military installation can have on its community. The service members inhabiting bases like the Defense Logistics Agency, Naval Support Activity and the United States Army War College and Barracks play critical roles in the Cumberland Valley region.

Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Center Susquehanna (DLA)

DLA Susquehanna’s arm reaches several continents, all while being located in the Cumberland Valley. DLA’s role is to provide mission support, through warehousing and delivering medical supplies, repair parts, clothing, textiles, and other supplies to military and commercial customers throughout the world. DLA played a crucial role in providing relief during the COVID pandemic, Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Sandy, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.


  • DLA Susquehanna generates 7,626 jobs and over $570 million in labor income annually within Pennsylvania
  • Over 7,200 jobs and $544 million in annual labor income are estimated to accrue within York and Cumberland counties.
  • Operations at DLA Susquehanna represent over $1.1 billion in annual economic output, which generates an estimated $803 million in Gross Regional Product (GRP), or value added production, annually to the Pennsylvania economy

Naval Support Activity of Mechanicsburg (NSA)

Located in Hampden Township, Cumberland County, Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg is one of the U.S. Navy’s most important centers for supply and distribution. This installation covers 806 acres and includes 107 facilities that comprise nearly eight million square feet of office and warehouse space.


  • Activities at NSAM generate 8,371 jobs within Pennsylvania and over $667.2 million in labor income annually
  • 7,883 of these jobs, and $635.8 million in labor income annually, are estimated to be generated within Cumberland County
  • Activities at NSAM represent nearly $1.21 billion in economic output and generate $920 million in Gross Regional Product (GRP), or value-added production, within Pennsylvania each year

U.S. Army War College and the Carlisle Barracks

The Garrison at Carlisle Barracks is home to the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) and the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC). The Army’s Dunham Medical Clinic is also located at the installation and serves as a regional medical center supporting Active Duty and retired service members across Central Pennsylvania.

USAWC is the Army’s senior service college, the capstone in the continuum of training and education provided to competitively-selected senior career military officers in the grade of Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel.

One of the more interesting aspects of new enrollees is the number of international fellows, who bring their families to live here during their stay. All international fellows are ingrained with the culture of the Cumberland Valley, as their goal is to live off-post. The community has a large role in the success of the War College, including job opportunities, emergency personnel, and partnerships with local universities and colleges.


  • A total of 2,868 jobs within the state of Pennsylvania, generating over $229 million in labor income annually
  • $521 million in overall economic output within Pennsylvania

Each organization provides a different mission around the globe and enhancements to the local community. Through workforce, local contracts, emergency services, and tourism attractions, the military’s impact on Cumberland Valley is tremendous.

Support Cumberland Valley’s Military Installations

The Cumberland Valley’s military installations produce numerous benefits for the surrounding communities, yet they rely on often-fluctuating federal funding. Civilians in the Cumberland area can ensure local military bases continue to thrive by  supporting groups like the CYALDG. For more information, and to get involved, contact us online today!

Note: Economic impact data has been updated from DCED’s 2018 PA Military Installation Impact Reports

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