The Defense Department plans to station another 1,400 soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to build up a combat aviation brigade, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, announced today.
He and other congressional leaders were briefed on the plans this week. The decision is in keeping with proposals the Army has advanced over the past year to add two new aviation brigades, one at Lewis-McChord south of Tacoma and another Fort Carson, Colo.
The brigade at Lewis-McChord will be developed by adding the new soldiers and another 44 new helicopters to resources that are already stationed at the base. Fort Carson expects to gain an entirely new brigade with 2,700 soldiers, Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado announced yesterday.
Smith said the plans for Lewis-McChord are “terrific news” for the base and for the South Sound. The new units follow eight years of continual growth for the base, which has more than 40,000 service members. In 2003, 19,000 soldiers were stationed there.
“As the largest employer in Pierce County, Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a key economic engine for the South Sound,” Smith said in a statement he released today. “The stationing of this aviation unit will be another gain for businesses that serve the region, providing new opportunities for civilian job growth as well as additional military personnel.”
The Army has 11 aviation brigades. It wants 13 because the units are in high demand and soldiers serving in them typically have less time at home in between deployments than the Army average.