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-McChords 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. That unit contains about 4,000 soldiers, about 1,000 of whom are finishing a deployment in Afghanistans Kandahar Province.
Heck was told the Army also would close or reduce other units at Lewis-McChord. The Army in January released a report showing that Lewis-McChord had more than 36,000 active-duty soldiers, far more than the 19,000 who served there before the Iraq War. The number today is closer to 33,600, according to the I Corps.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno today announced that 10 Army installations would lose combat brigades in a force reduction plan intended to bring its overall strength down from a peak of 570,000 soldiers to 490,000 by 2020. Odierno is expected to visit Lewis-McChord today, but he does not have any public events on his schedule.
The Army has already cut two of its Europe-based brigades. It likely will cut one more in addition to the 10 Odierno named today.
He said at a press conference today that the Army would be forced to make even more brigade cuts unless Congress averts the so-called sequester, which calls for about $500 billion in Pentagon cuts over the next decade.
If we go through full sequestration, theres going to be more reductions. Theres no way around it, he said.