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Archives: Feb. 2013


Army slows decision on where to cut troops

The Army is slowing down some decisions about where and how it intends to draw down its ranks over the next seven years to meet a mandated force reduction.

It extended a public comment period by one month for discussion on a broad-brush environmental report that analyzes possible cuts to every significant Army installation, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment report poses a worst-case cut of 8,000 active-duty soldiers at Lewis-McChord. The base has about 36,000 active-duty soldiers today, as well as another 8,000 service members from the Air Force, Reserves and some Marines.

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Lewis-McChord airmen delivering French troops and cargo to Mali for fight against al Qaeda group

Air Force crews from Joint Base Lewis-McChord have been delivering troops and supplies to Mali for the past three weeks in support of an international mission against a North African al Qaeda affiliate.

The Air Force today announced the C-17 teams from Lewis-McChord and Dover Air Force Base hit a milestone in delivering 2 million pounds of cargo for Malian and French forces. They’re flying out Istres, France.

“The best part of this mission is being able to take part in something important and being able to say, ‘I was there. I helped make that happen,’” Airman 1st

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JBLM officer looks back at three combat tours in new book, “Iraq Full Circle”


Col. Darron Wright thought he knew who the bad guys were on his first deployment to Iraq. They were Sunni Muslim insurgents giving his soldiers hell in the communities around Saddam Hussein’s hometown.
By his last tour six years later with a Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade, Wright found himself sharing tea and meals with leaders of some of the same groups – men he blamed for those early fatal attacks on American soldiers and vicious assaults on Iraqi civilians.
“This dude had so much blood on his hands,” Wright, 44, remembered from a 2010 meeting with

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“You have indeed returned with honor.” JBLM’s 2nd Stryker Brigade closes the book on nine months in Kandahar

Staff Sgt. Christopher Byers marched on prosthetic legs at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Thursday, rejoining a group of soldiers he left in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province seven months ago.
His limbs chafed at their heavy use, but Byers didn’t complain. He called himself motivated by the chance to march at a ceremony marking the homecoming of his Stryker brigade.
“It’s good to have them home. It really is. I was so worried about them while were gone,” he said.
Byers, 30, served with the 4,000 soldiers in Lewis-McChord’s 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which recently completed a nine-month assignment

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Inslee’s tax credit for hiring veterans and a Seattle job fair aim to smooth transitions for soldiers


Lt. Gen. Robert Brown visited Amazon this week to praise the company’s veterans’ hiring initiatives. Photo by Maj. Johnpaul Arnold.

Army and state leaders this week put a spotlight on programs aimed at hiring more veterans, seeking to build ties between the military and private employers as the Armed Forces enters a period of downsizing.

Gov. Jay Inslee today proposed a tax credit that would go to businesses that hire unemployed veterans.

His proposal says the credit would be up to percent of wages (maxing out at $3,000) for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans or

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It’s official: Defense secretary opens more benefits to same sex military couples

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today opened new benefits to same-sex military couples, granting them access to services such as childcare and  access to commissaries.

The new benefits come some 17 months since the repeal of the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. That change enabled gay military members to serve openly in the ranks, but did not open to them various benefits the heterosexual couples enjoy at military installations all over the world.

“Taking care of our service members and honoring the sacrifices of all military families are two core values of this nation. Extending these benefits is an appropriate

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Madigan PTSD investigations remain in the dark as Army denies FOIA requests and Army Secretary declines to detail results

Secretary of the Army John McHugh’s visit to Joint Base Lewis-McChord left many reporters with more questions than answers about the Army’s efforts to improve its behavioral health services.

His press conference generated frustration among reporters who left without knowing what to produce. I had a front page space to fill, and I chose to highlight a resiliency program he announced even though it was unclear to me how it was different from similar efforts I have covered.

Keith Eldridge from KOMO produced a story that essentially said the Secretary of the Army came to

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“We are glad you are home:” 3rd Stryker Brigade marks end of Afghanistan tour today at JBLM

 Sgt. 1st Class Christoper Montera hugs Sherry Wyatt, whose son Spc. Sterling Wyatt, was killed in Afghanistan in July. Montera and Spc. Wyatt served in the same Stryker unit.  Photo by Janet Jensen/The News Tribune

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Montera returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s main parade ground today for the first time since he left for Afghanistan more than a year ago.

He made his way onto the field in his wheelchair, rejoining the ranks of soldiers he last saw in March when a Taliban mortar round triggered explosions that deliver near-fatal injuries in Kandahar province.

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