Joint Base Lewis-McChord could lose some 8,000 soldiers under a proposal that lays out how the Army could meet Pentagon goals to reduce ranks over the next seven years, according to Army study released Friday.
That worst case scenario would ripple across Pierce and Thurston counties, causing more than 20,100 service members and their dependents to leave the area. It could to an additional loss of 9,000 military contract jobs, and 1,150 other jobs in the region, according to the study from the Army Environmental Command.
The report stresses that the Army has not made any decisions about where to reduce its forces. Instead, it examines how force reductions could play out when the Army executes its directive to cut overall strength from 562,000 soldiers to 490,000 through 2020.
It takes a broad brush to examine the most extreme cuts that could unfold at 21 Army installations. In fact, it analyzes a total force reduction of 125,800 soldiers – far more than the Army is considering.
It looks at a scenario in which every Army installation with multiple combat brigades would cut at least one and then trim 30 percent of soldiers from all other units. Lewis-McChord has three Stryker brigades, one artillery brigade, one combat aviation brigade, one combat engineer brigade, one sustainment brigade, one surveillance brigade and a mix of smaller units.
A spokesman for the top Army unit at Lewis-McChord, the I Corps, on Friday emphasized that the Pentagon has not given any orders about specific force reductions.
“From an I Corps perspective, as far as any force structure realignment decisions, those decisions haven’t been made,” said Col. Dave Johnson.
“You have to look at this holistically in that involves 21 bases,” he said. “It involves very, very large bases, and it’s over a span of eight years.”
Lewis-McChord has 46,000 service members and about 15,000 civilian employees. About 36,000 of those service members are soldiers who are on the table in the new study.
The report forecasts Lewis-McChord having about 28,000 active-duty soldiers in 2020.
The base swelled over the past decade as the Army grew to fight two wars. It had about 19,000 active-duty soldiers in 2003.
We’ll have more in the newspaper and online Saturday.
You can find the report here. The Army is accepting public comments on the document through Feb. 17.
To submit your comments or questions, write to
Public Comments USAEC,
Attn: IMPA-AE (Army 2020 PEA),
2450 Connell Road (Bldg 2264),
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-7664.
You can email: USARMY.JBSA.AEC.MBX@mail.mil