The Army says Joint Base Lewis-McChord's 4th Stryker Brigade will be one of 10 combat teams deactivated nationwide. The move is just one part of the Army’s plan to reduce its forces as the war in Afghanistan winds down.
The brigade has about 4,000 soldiers. Nearly 350 of them returned home Sunday after a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan. Overall, the Army plans to reduce the force by 80,000 soldiers by 2017.
General Ray Odierno, chief of staff for the Army, said decisions regarding troop reductions were made thoughtfully and strategically and were underway before the current budget impasse. “I want to emphasize that these reductions do not reflect reductions due to sequestration. Full sequestration could require another significant reduction in active guard and reserve force structure; as much as 100,000 combined," Odeirno said.
According to Rep. Denny Heck, other units at Lewis-McChord will also be reduced to bring the base's overall count of active-duty soldiers to about 26,000.
Currently more than 36,000 soldiers are assigned to JBLM.
In a statement, Sen. Patty Murray said the news was disappointing, but added that she was hopeful that new brigades would be added in the future. “These changes are never easy and they will be a tough adjustment for the community, but they come as a result of the end of combat operations in Iraq and the reduction of operations in Afghanistan,” Murray said.