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CG: I Corps manages variables during downsizing

Northwest Guardian

Published: 05:16PM June 19th, 2014
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Photo by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder

Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commanding general, I Corps, informs surrounding community representatives about strengthening the relationship between the military and communities during the I Corps Town Hall meeting at Eagles Pride Golf Course, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 10. The I Corps Town Hall informs residents around JBLM on what is going on and gives them an opportunity to ask questions to the command.

I Corps commanding general Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza spoke to the local business and political community about the state of I Corps in the context of a number of recent changes directed at the uniformed services by the Department of Defense.

The update took place at a town hall at Eagles Pride Golf Course June 10.

Of much interest was the contraction of the Army and Air Force in concert with winding down of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“You, the people of this community, the people of the nation, are what got us through these 13 years, based on Iraq and Afghanistan,” Lanza said. “The question is going to be, where do we go as a nation as we come out of Afghanistan?”

The Army is performing a Programmatic Environmental Assessment of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and other installations Armywide, Lanza said, but he didn’t know whether I Corps would lose service members as a result.

“We don’t know where that’s going to go,” he said. “I do know that we’re thankful to the Budget Control Act.”

Lanza said the federal law closed the gap between the size of the Army and how much training the Army could manage, preventing the Army from becoming a “hollow force”.

It remains to be seen, however, what will happen after the Budget Control Act expires in 2015.

Although I Corps has broadened its responsibilities in contingencies, taking command and control of the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, JBLM theoretically could lose more Soldiers, which would directly affect the economy.The 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division already moved its headquarters and about 2,000 Soldiers from JBLM to Fort Carson, Colo. in the last year.

Lanza said the Army balances three things to maintain capabilities: its size (force structure), its sustainment (training budget), and its future (modernization).

“I think one of the challenges of the future is, how do you keep those three in balance,” Lanza said. “I think in the future one of the strategic trades that’s going to have to be made is which is left out of balance.

Lanza said that the Army is refocusing on home station training after years of emphasis on contingency operations. That means maximizing what units get out of large training sites like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. and Yakima Training Center.

The Army also is turning its eyes toward the Pacific. Lanza said I Corps is working hard with Japan, Korea and the Philippines to maintain theater security and to enhance U.S. ability to project expeditionary power.

Territorial disputes in the South China Sea remain the top concern for U.S. partners in the region, Lanza said, with access to global markets a close second issue.

A third concern, however, is the effect of climate change. The U.S. deals with the monetary effects of global warming, Lanza said, “but in the Pacific, it’s a security issue.

“A lot of the island nations are impacted by climate change they receive, but there’s also the issue of populations moving to other nations, which causes instability,” he said.

I Corps and JBLM are in a unique position though, Lanza said, thanks to Air Force team members helping make the corps a truly expeditionary force that can respond to threats across the Pacific. Jointness should help JBLM if Congress engages in another round of base closures.

Nonetheless, “we always know that the world is very unstable, the world is very complex, and the Army — your Army — will have to be ready for whatever the nation asks us to do,” Lanza said.