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Category: Joint Base Lewis-McChord

June
25th

JBLM to lose a Stryker brigade and more soldiers in coming years

Joint Base Lewis-McChord will lose about 4,500 positions for active-duty soldiers over the next few years as the Army reduces its overall strength coming out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a briefing given this morning to Puget Sound congressmen.

Defense officials today told Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, that the Army plans to deactivate Lewis-McChord’s 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. That unit contains about 4,000 soldiers, about 1,000 of whom are finishing a deployment in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province.

Heck was told the Army also would close or reduce other units at Lewis-McChord. The Army in January released

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June
20th

JBLM using outreach and discipline to address rising numbers of military sex assaults

A fast-developing sexual assault prevention program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has the Army mustering up new victim advocates, spreading a “zero tolerance” message down the ranks and cracking down on misbehavior in the barracks.

It’s intended to reverse a rising number of reported military sexual assaults across the Armed Forces that is fraying relationships among service members and causing lawmakers to consider changes to the Army’s justice system.

“When you have sexual assault in the military, it breaks down the fabric of trust in our organization,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, who this week canceled training activities

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June
19th

After mothballing armory, National Guard returning to Pierce County with new readiness center

4:10 p.m. update: Wait, wait there’s more.

The state Military Department is budgeting $33.6 million for this project, with the Army setting aside about $27 million and the state contributing $6.6 million.

These details came to light when State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, called. She helped the state Military Department find the Buckley location and she views the readiness center as a vital addition to that community’s economy.

“This is so big for Buckley,” she said.

1:20 p.m. update: The National Guard might select a site outside of Tacoma for the readiness center it plans to build, a National Guard

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June
11th

Top military brass not ready to release service-wide behavioral health review spurred by Madigan complaints

Defense leaders still can’t give Sen. Patty Murray a deadline for when they plan to wrap up a service-wide review of military behavioral health programs more than a year after they first committed to her request.

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta launched the cross-service review last year following complaints from patients at Madigan Army Medical Center who had diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder changed for reasons they could not understand.

Since then, the Army has released plans to standardize its behavioral health programs. The cross-service review remains incomplete.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Murray during his

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June
10th

Clover Park schools on JBLM safe from defense furloughs but bracing for cuts to come

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is getting one break that most other military installations are not receiving this year in the Pentagon’s plan to furlough its civilian workforce for 11 days this summer

Lewis-McChord’s schools are staying open full time despite the furloughs because they’re managed by Lakewood’s CloverParkSchool District.

Elsewhere, the Defense Department plans to shut schools on military bases for five days this fall so employees can take their unpaid days off.

We’re publishing more about Lewis-McChord’s furlough plan in Tuesday’s newspaper. The base has more than 10,000 civilian employees who generally will be compelled to take Fridays

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June
6th

It’s official: The 7th ID is so entrenched at JBLM that its troops can sing its tune

Last fall, the Army toasted the arrival of a two-star general and a new headquarters for a reactivated division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord with a sunny ceremony on its main parade ground.

The day had all the pomp of a military ceremony – speeches, canons and rows of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder unwilling to scratch any itch.

It all went well until the base’s brass band broke into the official but forgotten tune for the revived 7th Infantry Division. Soldiers had not sung it in the seven years the 7th ID went dark before the Army brought the headquarters

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June
5th

Staff Sgt. Bales: “There’s not a good reason in the world for the horrible things I did”

2:20 p.m. update: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will not face the death penalty when an Army jury decides his punishment for massacring 16 Afghan civilians, an Army judge said today.

Bales’ maximum penalty will be life without a chance for parole, Judge Col. Jeffery Nance said in court today when he accepted Bales’ guilty plea.

The agreement lays the groundwork for an Aug. 19 sentencing trial where Bales’ attorneys hope put the March 2012 massacre in the context of the soldier’s experiences over four combat tours. Factors including Bales’ reported post-traumatic stress and a past concussive head injury could help

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June
3rd

Rep. Denny Heck, JBLM’s new congressman, returns from first trip to Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s next 10 months could well determine the strength of the country’s government after U.S. forces complete their expected drawdown in 2014, said Rep. Denny Heck of Olympia who just returned from his first visit to the war zone as a U.S. Congressman.

He was one of five lawmakers who spent seven days traveling to U.S. military installations in Germany, Qatar and Afghanistan, as well as stopping in Kosovo for a meeting with leaders there.

Heck was elected in November to represent a district that includes some 46,000 military service members stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He’s been getting up

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