Less than a week after returning from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Mike Scaparrotti, I Corps commanding general and I Corps Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell met with local leaders to reinforce Joint Base Lewis-McChords partnership with the surrounding communities.
More than 40 leaders from cities near JBLM attended the biannual community connector meeting June 19 at the McChord Collocated Club.
Colonel Thomas H. Brittain, JBLM commander, opened the meeting with an overview of major construction projects and improvements to infrastructure that are underway at the base and provided a snapshot of upcoming events. He invited local leaders to attend JBLMs summertime events to include the Fourth of July Freedom Fest and the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Expo July 21 and 22, the first air show which officially combines support from Army and Air Force assets at the joint base.
Scaparrotti discussed improvements in Afghanistan during I Corps deployment, as well as the key role I Corps Soldiers and coalition forces played in helping a relatively new government move forward in an ancient, complex culture.
Afghanistan has changed, Scaparrotti said. In 2009, the average life span in Afghanistan was 47 years; two and a half years later, the average life span is 62. Today, 85 percent of Afghans have health care within one hour of where they live.
The I Corps commander and his senior enlisted adviser closed the meeting by presenting U.S. flags flown over Kabul International Airport during I Corps deployment to representatives of 13 of JBLMs partner communities in a gesture of appreciation for their support.
The 13 communities are part of the Community Connector Program at JBLM. For more than a decade, JBLMs leaders have met with local community leaders to share information and increase understanding of both the military and civilian communities, which has allowed them to provide support to each other.
City of Lacey Mayor, Virgil S. Clarkson, one who received a U.S. flag from Kabul, said the opportunity to meet with leaders at JBLM and to hear the senior leaders perspective on Afghanistan was invaluable.
With one in 10 of our Lacey residents serving on active duty, this was very good information for those of us who are non-military, Clarkson said. This is an outstanding opportunity for leaders who represent cities near the base to get this information firsthand.