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Cuts to include JBLM Soldiers

Army to inactivate Raider Brigade, up to 4,500 slots, and 11 other combat teams in DOD-wide purge

Northwest Guardian

Published: 12:12PM June 27th, 2013
Cuts to include JBLM Soldiers

Christopher Gaylord/Northwest Guardian

Col. David Johnson, I Corps director of public affairs, outlines proposed JBLM Soldier cuts.

Of the nearly 80,000 military jobs the Army projects it will cut by 2017, the positions filled by at least one brigade of between 4,200 and 4,500 Soldiers will come from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I Corps announced Tuesday.

The Army will inactivate 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, a JBLM-based Stryker brigade combat team among 12 marked for elimination, as it reduces and restructures the force while shrinking the U.S. footprint in Afghanistan.

Colonel David Johnson, I Corps director of public affairs, said in a press conference on JBLM that the losses would occur gradually during the next few years, many resulting from the natural attrition of moves for new assignments, school duties or voluntary separations.

“If they’ve been here for two years or three years, they’ll be on orders; they’ll transfer to maybe a school or another installation,” Johnson told a small group of press. “There will be Soldiers who have decided that after their term of enlistment, they will transition into the civilian sector or go to school.”

Johnson stressed JBLM considered supporting the missions of forward-deployed Soldiers still in Afghanistan its top priority. He said the Army based its decision on an assessment of the logistics, training, and power projection capabilities of multiple installations. Twenty will suffer Soldier losses in the coming years as the Army guides its numbers down from about 565,000 to a proposed 490,000.

Johnson said the JBLM cuts derive from the 2011 Budget Control Act and have no ties to sequestration.

Returning Raider Brigade Soldiers would receive the usual reintegration time afforded recently redeployed troops. Their families remain a top concern, he said.

“Those Soldiers who are in Afghanistan now — the level of support to them is not diminishing; their level of support is as high as ever,” he said.

The brigade began deploying Soldiers to Afghanistan in October for a nine-month tour, but quick handovers of bases to Afghan partners have resulted in early Soldier returns by the hundreds since April. The brigade’s most recent return of about 350 Soldiers Sunday has been its largest to date.

Johnson said it’s always tough to lose a unit with the pride and history of 4th Brigade, but JBLM wouldn’t allow the brigade’s legacy earned during Iraq and Afghanistan combat deployments to fall by the wayside.

“The legacy 4-2 will leave is that their Soldiers did their duty when called upon, and that their families were supported and given everything they possibly could to support their Soldiers in that duty,” he said.

The brigade shifted its predeployment training at the National Training Center from combat to security force assistance to help to stand up Afghan National Police and Army units. The brigade drew on its experience in similar roles performed in Iraq during its 2009-2010 deployment.