Military


Fort Lewis

Fort Lewis, named after Meriwether Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition, is one of the largest and most modern military reservations in the United States. Consisting of 87,000 acres of prairie land cut from the glacier-flattened Nisqually Plain, it is the premier military installation in the Northwest.

Fort Lewis began as Camp Lewis in 1917 when the citizens of Pierce County voted by an eight to one margin to bond themselves for $2 million to buy 68,721 acres of land. They donated the land to the federal government for military use. The only stipulation was that the tract be used as a permanent Army post. Captain David L. Stone and his staff arrived at the camp site May 26,1917, and a few days later the initial construction began. The entire camp was ready for occupancy a month ahead of schedule. In 90 days, Stone had supervised the construction of a "city" of 757 buildings and 422 other structures all lighted and heated for 60,000 men. The first recruits moved into their new barracks on Sept. 5, 1917, exactly two months after the post building plan had been handed to the contractors. When they implemented auction of the new cantonment, workmen subscribed $4,000 to build the Main Gate - which is still standing. The arch was built of field stone and squared logs resembling the old block houses which stood in the Northwest as forts. Some 60,000 men,including the 91st Division, moved into the hastily constructed cantonment to train for World War I. Recruited largely from the Northwest, the 91st was considered "Washington's Own."

The following two years saw tremendous activity at Camp Lewis as men mobilized and trained for war service. Thousands of the nation's youth learned to know Camp Lewis and the state of Washington. With the conclusion of the war, activities at Lewis ground to a standstill. Camp Lewis passed from the hands of Pierce County and became the property of the Federal Government when the deed for 62,432 acres was recorded in the county auditor's office in Tacoma.

Brigadier General David L. Stone, who had supervised the original construction of Fort Lewis as a Captain, returned as its Commanding General in 1936, serving until 1937. The project of constructing an Army airfield, which later became McChord Air Force Base, directly north of the Fort Lewis installation, received approval as a WPA project in January 1938, and $61,730 was allocated for construction. The allocation provided for clearing, grading, and leveling a runway 6,000-feet long by 600-feet wide.

At the conclusion of World War II, the northwest staging area of Fort Lewis became a separation center and discharged its first soldiers in November of 1945. With the departure of the 4th Infantry Division for Vietnam in 1966, Fort Lewis once again became a personnel transfer and training center. In 1972, the 9th Infantry was reactivated.

Part of Forces Command, Fort Lewis is the home of I Corps and has been since 1981. It is one of 15 US power projection platforms. The Corps' primary focus is Pacific Rim. As a result, I Corps has a close, ongoing relationship with Pacific Command.

The principal Fort Lewis maneuver units are the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division and the 3d Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. It is also home to the 593d Corps Support Group, the 555th Engineer Group, the 1st MP Brigade (Provisional), the I Corps NCO Academy, Headquarters, Fourth ROTC Region, the 1st Personnel Support Group, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), 2d Battalion (Ranger), 75th Infantry, and Headquarters, 5th Army (West).

Soldiers receive first-rate medical care through Madigan Army Medical Center. Located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest on Puget Sound, Fort Lewis is adjacent to McChord Air Force Base, scheduled to be the home of the new C-17 transport fleet. Fort Lewis has abundant high-quality, close-in training areas, including 115 live fire ranges. Additional training space is available at the Yakima Training Center in eastern Washington, including maneuver areas and additional live fire ranges.

Fort Lewis has more than 25,000 soldiers and civilian workers. The post supports 120,000(+) retirees and more than 29,000 family members living both on and off post. Fort Lewis proper contains 86,000 acres; the Yakima Training Center covers 324,000 acres.

The Fort Lewis terrain is densely wooded and open, with Scotch Broom and undulating rocky terrain common. Poison oak, ivy, and sumac are found in the training areas. All personnel should be able to visually identify them. Nettles are present but uncommon. Canadian Thistle grows thickly in some areas. All trees are to be left standing; post policy prohibits cutting or trimming them.

The temperatures during summer vary from the mid 40's at night to the high 80's during the day, occasionally peaking over 100F. Humidity varies from day to day and frequent precipitation occurs overnight. Although July and August are usually "dry" months, it is not unusual for moderate rainfall to occur.

BRAC 2005

Secretary of Defense Recommendations: In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to relocate the 104th Division (IT) to Fort Lewis; its former home, Vancouver Barracks, was recommended for closure. DoD also recommended to relocate all units from Fort Lawton, WA other than the 70th Regional Readiness Command, which DoD recommended for destablishment, to a new Armed Forces Reserve Center on Fort Lewis. This recommendation would transform Army Reserve command and control by consolidating two major headquarters onto Fort Lewis. Relocation of multiple subordinate units from Vancouver Barracks and Fort Lawton to new Armed Forces Reserve Centers would contribute significantly to enhanced training, mobilization and deployment. This would set the conditions for establishing one of three new operationally capable Army Reserve Maneuver Enhancement Brigades which would increase the support capabilities of the Army Reserve to the Active Army and would be a new operational capability for the Army Reserve. The existence of archeological and historic resources, coupled with regional tribal interest, existing restrictions and a lack of a Programmatic Agreement, might result in increased time delays and negotiated restrictions at Fort Lewis. Consultation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service might also be required regarding threatened and endangered species.

In another recommendation, DoD would realign Submarine Base Bangor, WA, by relocating all mobilization processing functions to Ft Lewis, WA, designating it as Joint Pre-Deployment/Mobilization Site Lewis/McChord. This recommendation was part of a larger recommendation to consolidate mobilization funcitons at several other sites. This recommendation would realign eight lower threshold mobilization sites to four existing large capacity sites and transforms them into Joint Pre-Deployment/ Mobilization Platforms. This action would be expected to have the long-term effect of creating pre- deployment/mobilization centers of excellence, leverage economies of scale, reduce costs, and improve service to mobilized service members. These joint platforms would not effect any of the services units that a have specific unit personnel/equipment requirements necessitating their mobilization from a specified installation. This recommendation specifically targeted four of the larger capacity mobilization centers located in higher density Reserve Component (RC) personnel areas. These platforms had the added military value of strategic location, Power Projection Platform (PPP) and deployment capabilities. The gaining bases all had an adjoining installation from another service(s), thereby gaining the opportunity to increase partnership and enhance existing joint service facilities and capabilities. These new joint regional predeployment/redeployment mobilization processing sites, Fort Dix, Fort Lewis, Fort Bliss and Fort Bragg had the capability to adequately prepare, train and deploy members from all services while reducing overall mobilization processing site manpower and facilities requirements. Numerous other intangible savings would be expected to result from transformation opportunities by consolidating all services' mobilization operations and optimizing existing and future personnel requirements. Additional opportunities for savings would also be expecte from the establishment of a single space mobilization site capable of supporting pre-deployment/mobilization operations from centralized facilities and infrastructure.

In another recommendation, DoD recommended to realign McChord AFB, WA, by relocating the installation management functions to Fort Lewis, WA, establishing Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

All installations employed military, civilian, and contractor personnel to perform common functions in support of installation facilities and personnel. All installations executed these functions using similar or near similar processes. Because these installations shared a common boundary with minimal distance between the major facilities or are in near proximity, there was significant opportunity to reduce duplication of efforts with resulting reduction of overall manpower and facilities requirements capable of generating savings, which would be realized by paring unnecessary management personnel and achieving greater efficiencies through economies of scale. Intangible savings would be expected to result from opportunities to consolidate and optimize existing and future service contract requirements. Additional opportunities for savings would also be expected to result from establishment of a single space management authority capable of generating greater overall utilization of facilities and infrastructure. Further savings would be expected to result from opportunities to reduce and correctly size both owned and contracted commercial fleets of base support vehicles and equipment consistent with the size of the combined facilities and supported populations. Regional efficiencies achieved as a result of Service regionalization of installation management would provide additional opportunities for overall savings as the designated installations are consolidated under regional management structures. The quantitative military value score validated by military judgment was the primary basis for determining which installation was designated as the receiving location.

Secretary of Defense Justification: This recommendation transforms Reserve Component facilities and command and control structure throughout the Northwest Region of the United States. The implementation of this recommendation will enhance military value, improve homeland defense capability, greatly improve training and deployment capability, create significant efficiencies and cost savings, and is consistent with the Army's force structure plans and Army transformational objectives.

This recommendation is the result of a nation-wide analysis of Reserve Component installations and facilities conducted by a team of functional experts from Headquarters, Department of the Army, the Office of the State Adjutant General, and the Army Reserve Regional Readiness Command.

This recommendation supports the Army Reserve's Command and Control restructuring initiative to reduce Regional Readiness Commands from ten to four. This recommendation transforms Army Reserve command and control by consolidating two major headquarters onto Fort Lewis, WA. This sets the conditions for establishing one of three new operationally capable Army Reserve Maneuver Enhancement Brigades, which will increase the support capabilities of the Army Reserve to the Active Army and is a new operational capability for the Army Reserve. The realignment of Fort Snelling, MN, by the disestablishment of the 88th Regional Readiness Command allows for the establishment of the Northwest Regional Readiness Command Headquarters at Fort McCoy, WI, which will support the re-engineering and streamlining of the Command and Control structure of the Army Reserves throughout the United States.

This recommendation also realigns Fort Douglas, UT, and the Wichita Army Reserve Center, establishing Sustainment Units of Action in those locations in support of the Northwest Regional Readiness Command Headquarters. Relocation of multiple subordinate units from Vancouver Barracks and Fort Lawton, WA, to new Armed Forces Reserve Centers contributes significantly to enhanced training, mobilization and deployment.

This recommendation reduces military manpower and associated costs for maintaining existing facilities by closing two Reserve facilities and relocating the units onto an Active component installation and thereby significantly reducing operating costs and creating improved business processes.

This recommendation considered feasible locations within the demographic and geographic areas of the closing facilities and affected units. The sites selected were determined as the best locations because they optimize the Reserve Components' ability to recruit and retain Reserve Component soldiers and to train and mobilize units affected by this recommendation.

Although not captured in the COBRA analysis, this recommendation, in conjunction with other recommendations suggested by DoD in the BRAC 2005 USAR Command and Control Northwest section, avoids an estimated $70.7M in mission facility renovation costs and procurement avoidances associated with meeting AT/FP construction standards and altering existing facilities to meet unit training and communications requirements. Consideration of these avoided costs would reduce costs and increase the net savings to the Department of Defense in the 6-year BRAC implementation period and in the 20-year period used to calculate NPV.

This recommendation provides the opportunity for other Local, State, or Federal organizations to partner with the Reserve Components to enhance homeland security and homeland defense at a reduced cost to those agencies.

Community Concerns: There were no formal expressions from the community.

Commission Findings: The Commission found no reason to disagree with the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense.

Commission Recommendations: The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and force structure plan. Therefore, the Commission approved the recommendation of the Secretary.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list