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Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) is a United States military facility located south-southwest of Tacoma, Washington under the jurisdiction of the United States Army Joint Base Garrison, Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The facility is an amalgamation of the United States Army Fort Lewis and the United States Air Force McChord Air Force Base which were merged on 1 February 2010 as a result of Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations of 2005.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a training and mobilization center for all services and is the only Army power-projection platform west of the Rocky Mountains. Its key geographic location provides rapid access to the deep water ports of Tacoma, Olympia and Seattle for deploying equipment. Units can be deployed from McChord Field, and individuals and small groups can also use nearby Sea-Tac Airport. The strategic location of the base provides Air Force units with the ability to conduct combat and humanitarian airlift to any location in the world with the C-17 Globemaster III, the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft in the airlift force.[1]


Joint Base Garrison

The Joint Base Garrison operates the installation on behalf of the warfighting units, families and extended military community who depend on JBLM for support. The mission of the unit is to provide support to mission commanders and the joint base community, to serve as an enabler to the warfighters as they train and project America's combat power, and to make JBLM the station of choice for American warfighters and their families.[1]

With an Army joint base commander and an Air Force deputy joint base commander, the garrison supports the installation through directorates and agencies that provide a full range of city services and quality-of-life functions; everything from facilities maintenance, recreation and family programs to training support and emergency services.[1]

The major organizations that make up the bulk of the Joint Base Garrison include:

  • Directorates of Public Works: Logistics
  • Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation
  • Human Resources; Emergency Services
  • Plans and Training Security and Plans

Additional staff offices that support the installation mission include the Joint Base Public Affairs Office, the Religious Support Office, the Resource Management Office, Equal Employment Opportunity Office, the Installation Safety Office and the Plans. Analysis and Integration Office_ Other partners who work closely with the Joint Base Garrison include the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command and Joint Personal Property Shipping Office.[1]

Three military units support the Joint Base Garrison

  • 1st Joint Mobilization Brigade
Provides command and control and host unit support to mobilizing, deploying and demobilizing reserve component units from all military services.
  • 627th Air Base Group
Provides command and control and administrative oversight to the Airmen who perform installation support duties on behalf of the garrison.
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Joint Base Garrison
Provides administrative oversight to the Army personnel in the garrison and supports newly arrived Soldiers during their in-processing period.

Fort Lewis

Fort Lewis, named after Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition, is one of the largest and most modern military reservations in the United States. Consisting of 87,000 acres (350 km ) of prairie land cut from the glacier-flattened Nisqually Plain, it is the premier military installation in the northwest and is the most requested duty station in the army.[2]

Fort Lewis major units

Rifle confidence training

Pakistani Special Services Wing carrying FN F2000 rifles while on training at Fort Lewis, 23 July 2007.
Pakistani Special Services Wing carrying FN F2000 rifles while on training at Fort Lewis, 23 July 2007.
The United States Army I Corps commands most Army units at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and conducts planning and liaison with other assigned active and Reserve component units located in the continental United States. It is one of four corps headquarters in the active Army, and one of three based in the continental United States. I Corps has been designated as one of the active Army's contingency corps. I Corps stays prepared to deploy on short notice worldwide to command up to five divisions or a joint task force.[3]

Since I Corps was assigned to Fort Lewis in 1981, soldiers from its units have participated in Operation Just Cause in Panama, Desert Shield and Desert Storm during the Persian Gulf War, Operation Provide Comfort for Kurdish Refugees, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. They helped with the restoration of order following the riots in Los Angeles, participated in Operation Safe Harbor in NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for Haitian migrants, supported relief efforts following Hurricane Andrew in Florida and Hurricane Iniki in Hawaii, and played a significant role in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and in restoring peace in Kosovo.[3]

I Corps also contributed to the command structure of Operation Desert Storm with the I Corps commander, Lieutenant General Calvin Waller, and the Deputy I Corps commander, Major General Paul Schwartz, assisting General H. Norman Schwarzkopf the commander of American forces. January 15, 2003, marked the 85th anniversary of the activation of the I American Army Corps in Neufch teau, France. The corps assumed tactical responsibility for troops fighting on the Western Front 4 July 1918. I Corps participated in battles during the Aisne-Marne Offensive, the St. Mihiel Offensive and the Battle of Meuse-Argonne. After World War I, I Corps was disbanded at Tonnerre, France in 1919.[3]

In 1981, I Corps was reactivated at Fort Lewis. On October 12, 1999, General Eric K. Shinseki, Chief of Staff of the Army, announced I Corps would lead the acceleration of Army transformation, training and the initial creation of the first two Stryker Brigade Combat Teams at Fort Lewis.[3]

Since September 11, 2001, I Corps and Fort Lewis assets have been active in providing support for Global War on Terrorism operations, including Operation Noble Eagle (Homeland Defense), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom.[3]

On February 5, 2004, Task Force Olympia was activated, as a sub-element of I Corps headquarters with the mission to command forward-deployed units in Iraq. This marked the first time that I Corps had forward soldiers in combat since the end of the Korean War. Task Force Olympia included units from all three components of the Army (Active, Reserve and National Guard) as well as Marine and Australian officers. Task Force Olympia's subordinate units included the 3d Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2d Infantry Division, which deployed for Iraq on November 8, 2003, and returned to Fort Lewis after one year of combat duty, and the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, which departed Fort Lewis on September 15, 2004, for one year and returned September 2005. On June 1, 2006, the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division cased its colors and became the 2d Cavalry Regiment - Stryker Brigade Combat Team with its home station in Germany. A new unit then uncased the colors of its new designation on June 1, 2006 - the 4th Brigade, 2d Infantry Division.[3]

Subordinate units assigned to Fort Lewis are:

JBLM Main & JBLM North

JBLM has more than 25,000 soldiers and civilian workers. The post supports over 120,000 military retirees and more than 29,000 family members living both on and off post. Fort Lewis proper contains 86,000 acres (350 km ); the Yakima Training Center covers 324,000 acres (1,310 km ).

JBLM Main & North have 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.

In 2009, the former Fort Lewis Regional Correction Facility was remodeled and renamed the Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility (NWJRCF). The facility houses minimum and medium security prisoners from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.[4]

During the summer months (June, July, August), JBLM North hosts the Leader Development and Assessment Course, a capstone program for the U.S. Army's ROTC program.

Also adjacent to the post is Camp Murray (Washington National Guard).

Yakima Training Center

Teams of ROTC cadets compete at the water confidence course during Leader Development and Assessment Course training The Yakima Training Center is a major sub-installation of JBLM, and provides a full range of training lands and ranges to active and reserve component units. Encompassing more than , YTC is a world-class facility where units can prepare for any mission they may be called upon to perform.[1]

The training center is high desert, and is covered with sagebrush, volcanic formations, dry gulches and large rock outcroppings. YTC has vast flat valleys separated by intervening ridges which are suited to large-scale mechanized or motorized forces. Much of the steeper terrain resembles areas of Afghanistan. Twenty-five ranges, including the state-of-the-art Multi-Purpose Range Complex and Shoot House, are available for individual or collective training.[1]

Prior to 1941, the area consisted of ranches and a few scattered silica mines. Just before World War II, the Army's need for a large training and maneuver area became apparent, and the Army negotiated with landowners to lease for the Yakima Anti-Aircraft Artillery Range. Military organizations in the Pacific Northwest used the center for range firing and small unit tests. The first range was constructed in 1942 on Umtanum Ridge, northeast of the present cantonment area.[1]

In 1947, approximately were cleared of unexploded ammunition and returned to the original owners. During 1949 and 1950, the state of Washington used the center for summer training of its National Guard units and regular Army troops were permanently assigned to the center. At the start of the Korean War, the Army decided to expand Yakima Training Center. In 1951, the Installation was enlarged to and construction of the current cantonment area began.[1]

In 1986, a further expansion was initiated, and in 1992, the Army acquired additional land to enlarge YTC to . The Multi-Purpose Range Complex opened in 1989, and the Shoot House and Urban Assault Course opened in 2005. YTC has an AAFES shoppette, a recreation center and a gymnasium available to soldiers and their families. The Firing Point community club, with cafeteria, opened in February 2009.[1]

Gray Army Airfield

Chinook helicopters over Gray Army Airfield at Ft. Lewis in 1977
Chinook helicopters over Gray Army Airfield at Ft. Lewis in 1977

See: Gray Army Airfield for additional information and history.

Gray Army Airfield , is a military airport located within Fort Lewis. The field is named in honor of Captain Lawrence C. Gray, who lost his life during a free balloon flight at the field on November 4, 1927. It is used by Army helicopters.[5]

Helicopters based at the airfield assisted with medical evacuations at Mount Rainier National Park on numerous occasions in the 1970s. Army helicopters were also used to insert search-and-rescue [SAR] teams into inaccessible areas on the east, north, and west sides of the mountain, lowering rangers to the ground by a cable device known as a "jungle penetrator". Helicopters began assisting with high altitude (above 10,000 feet) SAR operations in the 1980s. Helicopters were also used for "short haul" rescue operations, in which a ranger and litter were carried in a sling below the helicopter to the scene of the accident.[5]

During World War II the Air Transport Command 4131st Army Air Force Base Unit used GAAF as the CONUS hub for the Alaskan West Coast Wing, ferrying supplies, equipment and aircraft to Eleventh Air Force at Elmendorf Field, near Fairbanks. Also used by Air Technical Service Command as an aircraft maintenance and supply depot; primarily to service aircraft being sent to Alaska. The Army Air Force closed its facilities in 1947.[5]

McChord Field

Satellite view of McChord Air Force Base 2 June 2002 Located adjacent to Lakewood, Washington and Parkland, Washington, it was named in honor of Colonel William Caldwell McChord, former Chief of the Training and Operations Division in HQ Army Air Corps and started off as the Army airfield of Fort Lewis.

627th Air Base Group

The 627th Air Base Group exists to maintain the Air Force structure as it relates to organizing, training. and equipping Airmen to deploy. More than 1,000 mission-ready Airmen in the 627th Air Base Group are prepared to provide Expeditionary Combat Support for military operations worldwide. The 627th Air Base Group staff is responsible for the administrative functions in caring for Airmen in the JBLM construct. The office processes all administrative routing of awards, decorations, evaluations, and coordination of staff summary packages to include OT&E subject matter.

Within the Joint Base Garrison, 627th Airmen carry out the mission day-to-day directly supporting 37,000 military, 10,000 civilians, 52,000 family members, and 17,000 retirees. The group includes civil engineer, logistics, force support, communications, and security forces squadrons that provide installation support for 4,055 facilities on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

62d Airlift Wing

McChord Field is home to a wide variety of units and missions. The 62d Airlift Wing is the primary United States Air Force active duty wing on McChord Field. The wing is part of Air Mobility Command and provides the Department of Defense a fast, flexible and responsive airlift capability, with a primary mission to develop and sustain expeditionary Airmen to deliver global airlift for America. In addition. as the provider of the Prime Nuclear Airlift Force. The 62d is the only wing in the Department of Defense tasked to airlift nuclear weapons and materials.

The 62d Operations Group maintains the readiness of more than 2,500 active duty and civilian personnel, along with 43 permanently assigned C-17 Globemaster IIIs, to support combat and humanitarian contingencies. It consists of four airlift squadrons and an operational support squadron.

Other wing components are the 62d Maintenance Group, 62d Mission Support Group and 62d Medical Squadron.

The 62d Airlift Wing is joined by its Reserve partner the 446th Airlift Wing. Together, the two wings fly 50 C-17 Globemaster IIIs to provide combat airlift for America. Joint Base Lewis-McChord also hosts the Western Air Defense Sector, an Air National Guard unit; the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron; the 361st Recruiting Squadron and a number of other units across the installation.

Other McChord units

Other major units stationed at McChord Field are:

The 446th Airlift Wing has 13 squadrons, four flights and 2200 Air Force Reservists and civilians supporting McChord Field's global C-17 Globemaster Ill missions - airlift, airdrop and aeromedical evacuation. The wing has flown nearly 40 percent of the daily missions out of McChord Field; deployed professionals from a wide range of specialties to locations around the globe and continuously supported the mission here at home. The 446th Operations Group includes the 97th. 728th, and 313th Airlift Squadrons and the Reserve-unique 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.
The Western Air Defense Sector (WADS), with headquarters at McChord, is the largest of the United States Air Defense sectors responsible to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Continental NORAD Region for peacetime air sovereignty, strategic air defense, and airborne counter-drug operations in the continental United States. WADS is a Washington Air National Guard unit that reports directly to AFNORTH/1st Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
  • 1st Air Operations Support Group
  • 22d Special Tactics Squadron
  • 262d Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron
  • 361st Recruiting Squadron

McChord Air Museum

The McChord Air Museum is one of the largest and finest military aircraft museums in the United States.[6]

Madigan Healthcare System

JBLM Soldiers receive medical care through on-base Madigan Healthcare System facilities such as Madigan Army Medical Center, the Okubo Clinic, and the Nisqually Clinic. JBLM Airmen receive medical care at the McChord Clinic as well as Madigan Army Medical Center.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 15.9 square miles (41.2 km ), of which, 15.3 square miles (39.6 km ) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km ) of it is water. The total area is 3.78% water. The military base is, as previously stated, much larger than the CDP defined by the Census Bureau.

Fort Lewis' terrain is primarily a mixture of dense conifer woods and open Puget prairie-garry oak woodlands. Invasive Scotch Broom has taken over many areas. The landscape is very rocky from glacial meltwater deposits. Poison-oak is found in the training areas. Canada 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 40s at night to the mid 70s during the day, occasionally peaking over . Although July and August are the driest months.


The census-designated place (CDP) Fort Lewis is located within the installation's area.[7] As of the 2000 census, the CDP, which includes the most densely populated part of the base, had a total population of 19,089. As of the census of 2000, there are 19,089 people, 3,476 households, and 3,399 families residing on the base. The population density is 1,248.5 people per square mile (482.0/km ). There are 3,560 housing units at an average density of 232.8 per square mile (89.9/km ). The racial makeup of the base is 60.4% White, 20.3% African American, 1.4% Native American, 3.4% Asian, 1.8% Pacific Islander, 6.2% from other races, and 6.4% from two or more races. 13.1% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 3,476 households out of which 85.8% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 89.3% are married couples living together, 6.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 2.2% are non-families. 2.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 0.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.75 and the average family size is 3.78.

The age distribution is 32.1% under the age of 18, 28.0% from 18 to 24, 37.5% from 25 to 44, 2.0% from 45 to 64, and 0.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 22 years. For every 100 females there are 168.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 212.5 males. All these statistics are typical for military bases.

The median income for a household on the base is $32,384, and the median income for a family is $32,251. Males have a median income of $20,878 versus $20,086 for females. The per capita income for the base is $12,865. 8.2% of the population and 7.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 10.7% of those under the age of 18 and 0.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

See also


Further reading

External links

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