A visiting general with oversight of Joint Base Lewis-McChord said this morning that he has confidence in the chain of command at the base south of Tacoma, and blamed “unfortunate headlines” for pinning Lewis-McChord with the label of America’s most troubled military installation.
Gen. David M. Rodriguez is the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, based at Fort Bragg, N.C. FORSCOM is the Army’s largest command and the higher headquarters for I Corps and conventional forces at Lewis-McChord.
He was at the base today for a briefing and decided to hold a press conference to address multiple media reports focusing on a series of high-profile incidents involving Lewis-McChord soldiers – most notably, last weekend’s slaying of 16 civilians in southern Afghanistan.
Rodriguez would not address any details from the massacre, not even confirming that the suspected killer is from Lewis-McChord. He did say the Army, from the top down, was shocked by the incident, “and ought to be.”
He said Lewis-McChord is similar to other U.S. military bases in the proportion of soldiers who have seen heavy combat, served on multiple deployments and suffered conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. FORSCOM did not have comparative numbers readily available.
Rodriguez also said he’s confident in the Army’s ability to screen and treat these signature medical conditions from the last decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan – “we’re not perfect,” but getting better, he said.