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Category: Military

July
15th

JBLM losing one of its team players as Fires Brigade’s Col. Kamper moves on

Col. Ken Kamper doesn’t miss much at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He’s there when his artillery troops come home from war. He’s there to pay respects when soldiers fall in combat. And Kamper almost always says yes when South Sound communities come looking for an officer in uniform to represent the Army outside the base.

The two-time Iraq veteran who spent eight of the past 10 years at the base south of Tacoma is moving on after two and a half years leading about 2,500 soldiers in the base’s artillery brigade. His 17th Fires Brigade is one of four large Army

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July
12th

Fox visits JBLM on first “furlough Friday” to question DOD spending on gophers while cutting worker pay


Fox News swung through the South Sound this week to highlight two extremes in military spending here.

On one hand, the Defense Department is cutting pay for 10,000 civilian employees at Joint Base Lewis-McChord by compelling them to take 11 unpaid days off from now until September.

On the other, it’s contributing about $4 million to a habitat preservation effort aimed at protecting several threatened species, such as the Mazama pocket gopher.

“That really makes me mad that they would do that,” said Matt Hines, who

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July
10th

Federal government steering millions to South Sound to preserve gophers, artillery ranges

An environmental preservation effort aimed at keeping endangered species alive while freeing up the Army to use its valuable South Sound training grounds is receiving a $12.6 million boost in funding from the federal government and nonprofit organizations.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord and its surrounding communities were chosen for a pilot project partnering community organizations with the Defense, Interior and Agriculture departments.

They’ll use the money to buy and preserve land outside the base to protect species such as Mazama pocket gophers, Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies and streak-horned larks. It could be used to purchase and set aside land, or

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July
9th

More than 800 workers at Washington National Guard facing furloughs

Mandatory furloughs for Defense Department civilian employees are taking a bite out of paychecks on both sides of Interstate 5.

About 850 employees of the Washington National Guard – headquartered at Camp Murray in Lakewood – are scheduled to take 11 unpaid days off from this week through the end of September, just like their counterparts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on the other side of the highway.

Washington Military Department spokeswoman Karina Shagren said the furloughs will cut into maintenance, training and morale. The Washington National Guard received four furlough exemptions, one of them for sexual assault prevention coordinator.

“While

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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
13th

Yes, yes I did suffer a gaping flesh wound while doing yoga in Baghdad

Ever since my story about an Army Special Operations unit summiting Mount Adams last month was published, friends and readers ask, “Did you really do that with them?”

That’s when I stand a little straighter, smile, and say, “Yeah, I kept up with the guys.”

The guys are an elite team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The summit stands at 12,276 feet. The hike called for about 7,000 feet of elevation gain over two days with temperatures dropping into the low 20s. I had reason to be proud.

What I don’t tell my skeptical friends is that I spent the

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June
12th

DOD IG wants more tests on Boeing-made sub-hunting jets before Navy pays for full production

A new Defense Department Inspector General report urges the Navy to slow down on its purchases of a submarine-hunting jet that Boeing manufactures in the Puget Sound.

The Inspector General wants the Navy to supervise more testing to ensure that P-8A Poseidon jets will reach a required 25-year lifespan “without succumbing to structural fatigue” before committing to a  full-rate production contract. The IG says the Navy had planned to consider that contract next month.

So far, the Navy has ordered 24 P-8A jets and it has begun assigning them to Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida. Over time, the

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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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