To say Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s newest Special Forces unit is ready to hit the ground running would be an understatement.
Its soldiers were sprinting even before they had a chance to set up their new compound at the base south of Tacoma.
The base’s 1st Special Forces Group unfurled the flag for its new 4th Battalion Friday, signaling that another 400 Green Berets will be serving in the South Sound.
Some of those new soldiers have been deploying on missions to Thailand and the Philippines already. They’re in the queue for more assignments to Afghanistan and Pacific nations.
“The demand for Special Forces is so great that we don’t have the luxury of isolating this unit and having them here,” said Col. Brian Vines, deputy commander of the 1st Special Forces Group.
The ranks of Special Forces have been growing since 2006, when the Pentagon cited a greater need for their capabilities in its official four-year planning document.
Since then, active duty commands such as the 1st Special Forces Group have each been adding one new battalion.
When the 4th battalion reaches its full strength, the Lewis-McChord group will have about 1,500 to 1,600 Green Berets stationed here.
They’ll do their stateside work in a set of new buildings they named after Green Berets who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The battalion’s headquarters was dedicated Friday in the memory of Sgt. Maj. Bradly Conner, a Tacoma-born Special Forces soldier who was killed in Ramadi, Iraq on May 9, 2007 at the age of 41. His family attended Friday’s ceremony.
Naming the headquarters after him “helps for our closure, and it inspires these young Green Berets coming into the force to show we take care of our own,” Vines said.
With more Green Berets, Special Forces soldiers likely will benefit from having more time at home in between deployments.
Vines said they typically serve a year overseas for every six months they spend at home. Their deployments tend to be shorter than infantry missions. Green Berets tend to serve on six- to eight-month deployments.
The 4th battalion’s commander, Lt. Col. Steven Warman, said he looked forward to laying the foundation for a new unit.
“The guys I have now get to set the future,” he said.