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New JBLM division leader talks pot, Pacific shift and health in TV interview

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on March 5, 2013 at 11:49 am |
March 5, 2013 11:49 am

Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza last week sat down for an interview with TVW’s Austin Jenkins, covering a lot of ground from how to talk about mostly legal marijuana in the Evergreen State to the recently reactivated 7th Infantry Division’s growing command responsibilities over combat brigades.

Above is an excerpt showing Lanza reiterating that Lewis-McChord soldiers cannot smoke marijuana even though the drug is now legal under state law. Federal law applies to service members, he said, and regular urinalysis tests for cannabis will continue.

Lanza arrived at Lewis-McChord last fall to reactivate the 7th Infantry Division. Lewis-McChord was the largest Army installation in the world without a division headquarters. Some soldiers  believed the base was missing an important level of oversight between the big picture three star headquarters at the I Corps and the colonel-led combat brigades.

“It’s what’s been needed here for awhile,” Lanza told Jenkins.

Army Secretary John McHugh announced the division’s reactivation last spring, just after a series of crimes and controversies threatened to tarnish the base’s reputation, such as the 2010 Stryker “kill team” war crimes investigation and the alleged massacre a year ago of 16 Afghan civilians by Lewis-McChord’s Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

Lanza at first took command of about 17,000 soldiers in Lewis-McChord’s Stryker, artillery and aviation brigades. Later this year, the division will take on Lewis-McChord’s combat engineer and battlefield surveillance brigades, too, giving it about 22,000 troops. 

That change is intended to free up the I Corps led by Lt. Gen. Robert Brown to focus on strategic issues instead of readying combat troops for deployments.

The full interview is available here. It starts about two minutes in and runs to about minute 29.

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