Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

July 17, 2014 at 3:07pm

Military Budget Cuts: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, local communities mobilize

Possible budget and personnel cuts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will have significant economic impacts on cities such as Lakewood. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Again, change may be coming to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

In 2013 the Army announced a reduction in force from a wartime peak of around 570,000 in 2010 to 490,000 as well as a substantial realignment of the remaining force.

These changes were required to achieve the savings specified in the Budget Control Act of 2011 and to adjust the Army's force structure to meet evolving mission requirements.

To analyze the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts on surrounding communities, the Army prepared a Programmatic Environmental Assessment in 2013 whereby 21 Army and joint base installations were evaluated.

Since 2013, the mission and fiscal considerations of the Department of Defense have continued to change, and now the size of the Army must be reduced to below the 490,000 discussed in the 2013 PEA.

The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) states that the active Army will now reduce to a force of 440,000 to 450,000 soldiers.  The QDR also states that if sequestration level cuts are imposed in fiscal year 2016 and beyond, force strength will be further reduced to 420,000.

As a result, the Army has recently prepared a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA) to assess the environmental and socioeconomic impacts on local municipalities of further reductions and to provide information to decision makers and the public.

The assessment has a direct bearing on JBLM.

As part of the reduction of force, in a worse case scenario the SPEA indicates that JBLM is being considered for a potential reduction of 16,000 soldiers and civilian workers.

The timeline for any kind of reduction would be between now and 2020.

"Under the proposed action, the Army estimates the JBLM Region of Influence (ROI) - encompassing Pierce and Thurston counties - would see an income reduction of $971.6 million; what the Army acknowledges to be a ‘significant impact' to Washington's 10th District," said Congressman Denny Heck in an email. "It is critical that we take advantage of the SPEA's public comment period to evaluate the Army's assessments and respond accordingly."

The South Sound Military and Communities Partnership (SSMCP) has put together an action team to analyze the SPEA and develop talking points for local communities to use in preparing official comments on the SPEA.

For more information on how to respond to these changes, contact Mary Huff, interim program manager, SSMCP at mhuff@cityoflakewood.us or 253.983.7774.

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