June 26, 2013 in City

Lewis-McChord facing cuts

Brigade of almost 4,000 will be deactivated
Doug Esser Associated Press
 

SEATTLE – The Army plans to reduce the number of troops at Joint Base Lewis-McChord by about 4,000 soldiers during the next several years as part of an overall reduction in force prompted by spending cuts and the ending of the war in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

The Army will deactivate the 4th Stryker Brigade, which has about 4,000 soldiers, including 1,000 remaining in Afghanistan who are due back this summer, said spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield.

JBLM has a total of 33,645 active-duty soldiers, Dangerfield said. Including Air Force and reservists, the total military population is close to 40,000, he said.

As part of the Army reorganization, some combat soldiers will be added to brigades.

Army officials assured U.S. Rep. Denny Heck that Lewis-McChord still has a significant mission.

“Today’s announcement ensures that Joint Base Lewis-McChord will retain its status as the U.S. Army’s main West Coast force projection base. The base will continue to play an important role in the decades ahead as our national security strategy pivots to the Asia-Pacific region,” Heck, a Democrat, said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said she was disappointed in the reductions at JBLM but said it will remain “one of the premier military installations in America.”

“In the coming months, I will continue working closely with JBLM leaderships, community partners in the south Sound, and all those directly affected to make this transition as seamless as possible,” she said in a statement.

The base near Tacoma is one of 10 in the United States losing brigades in a reorganization announced by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno to reduce troop strength by 80,000 to 490,000.

“We hate to lose anything, to be honest with you,” said spokesman Dangerfield at JBLM. “It can have an impact on the organization. We will make the adjustment.”

It won’t affect JBLM’s readiness, he said.

“Our new mission now is to focus on the Pacific, and we can more than meet that challenge if it comes down to the scenario, and we can be augmented,” Dangerfield said.

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