This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Goodbye Fort Lewis. So long, McChord Air Force Base.
As of this month, the South Sound’s two immense military installations have fused into Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The Air Force and Army have officially tied the knot. The motto on the combined base’s logo emphasizes the partnership: “Soldiers and airmen defending America.”
The “new” arrangement harks back to the past, locally and nationally. What is now McChord Air Field once belonged to the Army, just as the Air Force itself was once a part of the Army. The repackaged Joint Base Lewis-McChord would seem a logical arrangement to those who served there before McChord (and the Air Force) won independence in 1947.
Independence can be overrated, though. The merger of McChord and Fort Lewis is part of a broader effort to restructure military installations in ways that make sense in light of limited budgets, evolving missions and the need for far greater coordination among the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.
The independence of those four branches has always bred problems. For example, the Army’s Black Hawk helicopters were once equipped with radios that couldn’t communicate with the radios on the Air Force’s F-15 fighters. That wouldn’t have happened if enough people had been talking to each other.
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