... we quickly realized that our neighborhood is very desirable to renters (established, lots of retirees & young military families). So far there has been no gaps between leases, but I also realize that maybe we've just been getting lucky all these years lol. So yes I'm not so much opposed to the idea that a year's worth of expenses in the EF will make me sleep better at night.
I don't want to rain on your parade but rather to make you aware of a couple of economic "threats" to your plan that you should at least think about:
Renting right now is very popular both because a lot of people got slammed when real estate prices fell so they are afraid to buy and banks are stingy with loans now so many people can't get loans to buy. If interest rates go up or home prices start rising, the pool of renters could fall.
Rentals near military bases, universities, and so forth are usually safer. But there is a good chance we're going to see a major drawdown in US forces over the next few years. We are closing out two wars and defense budgets are being cut because of the debt/deficit issues. There are plenty of defense hawks that will fight this but I think it is inevitable over the 5-10 year time frame regardless of who is in power. This could lead to fewer renters for you or even a base closing that could be disastrous to your plan.
Just make sure you think about those things and recognize how they could impact you.