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Inslee: Washington is prepared for Army personnel reduction

Staff writer ▼ | July 9, 2015
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said Washington is well-prepared to manage the downsizing at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) announced by the Department of Defense and the Army.
Defense industry   JBLM will lose 1,250 active duty personnel over the next two years
In 2013, DoD spending in Washington topped $13.1 billion.
The Department of Defense (DoD) said it plans to reduce the size of the Army across the nation by 40,000 troops over the next two years.

The Army also announced Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) will lose 1,250 active duty personnel over the next two years. Army leaders had previously discussed reductions at JBLM as high as 11,000.

The military and defense sector plays a significant role in Washington’s economy. In 2013, DoD spending in Washington topped $13.1 billion and represented 3.2 percent of the state’s GDP. Washington ranks in the top ten states for military spending and is the 6th most military populated state. Of the 112,560 military personnel in Washington, over half reside in the South Puget Sound.

Inslee and congressional and local leaders challenged DoD’s impact analysis and sought to make the case for Washington as a strategic choice for maintaining Army and DoD installations.

This number does not include the Western Regional Medical Command personnel who will be moved to Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii when its headquarters is relocated. Today’s number also does not reflect the reduction in DoD civilian employees at JBLM, which DoD is expected to announce this fall.

JBLM has already absorbed some Army reductions including the loss of the 4/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team in 2013. Still unknown is the impact of potential future cuts at JBLM should the Army be forced to drawdown to 420,000 personnel as a result of federal cuts known as sequestration.

The Army’s reduction and realignment plan also includes conversion of the Washington National Guard’s 81st Armored Brigade Combat Team to a Stryker Brigade, a move Inslee has been requesting. The conversion means the Washington National Guard’s Abrams Tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles will be replaced with more modern Stryker vehicles.

Inslee has been working for months with defense community leaders to prepare and plan for reductions. He created a Military and Defense Sector lead at his Department of Commerce and reconvened the Washington Military Alliance. His Administration secured a $4.3 million DoD grant to focus on the state’s response to defense businesses in the wake of a reduction in defense spending.

The governor convened an 11 agency Subcabinet on Military Downsizing to prepare a state response plan in anticipation of the Army’s downsizing announcement today. Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender chairs the group.