Press Releases

ssion, including Chairman Anthony Principi, James Bilbray, Philip Coyle and James Hansen are meeting in Portland, Oregon today to conduct a regional BRAC hearing where concerns and questions are raised about the BRAC implementation process. Mr. David Graybill, President and CEO of the Tacoma/Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and a Member of the Tacoma/Pierce County BRAC Citizen’s Task Force, is submitting the letter on behalf of the Members of Congress.

“BRAC is one component of the Pentagon’s effort to ensure that our military is the best and most effective fighting force in the world,” said Smith, an honorary Co-Chair of the Tacoma/Pierce County BRAC Citizen’s Task Force. “That being said, I have several concerns that I would like the BRAC commission to consider and address, including the impact on the reduction of personnel at McChord AFB.”

The entire text of the letter is below.

Mr. Anthony Principi


2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission
2521 S. Clark St., Ste. 600
Arlington, VA 22202


Dear Chairman Principi,

First, we would like to thank you for your work on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission.  The difficult task that you and the Commission members are undertaking is critical for the future of our nation’s military.  We appreciate your willingness to serve our nation in this capacity.

We believe that the Defense Secretary’s BRAC recommendations largely recognize the important military assets we have in the Northwest.  Our distinctive geography, unique military assets and dedicated servicemen and servicewomen, combine to position Northwest facilities as highly valuable for our nation’s security.

However, we have some questions and concerns about the implementation of the proposed Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the proposed reduction in jobs affiliated with McChord AFB.  While we applaud the Department of Defense’s willingness to better leverage local assets and improve efficiency through joint basing, the lack of detailed information about the proposal has made it difficult to truly evaluate the merits of this proposal.

As the Commission considers the Defense Department’s proposals, we urge you to seek clarification on a number of critical points:

What is the correct number of position cuts at McChord AFB?  As you are aware, on May 13, 2005, the Department of Defense released its list of proposed closures and realignments of military installations.  That list proposed 567 positions at McChord Air Force Base (424 military billets, 136 civilian positions and 7 net mission contractors).  Recently, however, Senator Maria Cantwell received an e-mail from the Air Force listing the job reductions related to realignment at McChord as 629.  Clarification is needed as to what the actual recommended number of job reductions related to McChord within the joint-basing initiative is.

How was this number derived?  What functions are recommended to be combined and what is the basis for expected efficiencies?  Which jobs specifically are recommended for elimination?  To date, we have been unable to learn how the Defense Department developed this job reduction proposal.  We have spoken with the commanders of both Fort Lewis and McChord AFB, as well as members of Air Mobility Command, none of whom have a sense of how this figure was derived.  The figure appears to be driven entirely by a small number of individuals within the Pentagon, making it difficult to evaluate the process by which the figure was developed.

We have also been unable to obtain clarification as to which positions would be eliminated under joint basing.  Without clarification on this point, it is impossible to determine the merits of the Department’s joint basing proposal, especially in terms of its impact on mission readiness.

What is the impact of the proposed job reduction on mission readiness?  As noted above, it is difficult to answer this question without clarification on how the job reduction number was derived or which positions are proposed for elimination.  However, it is worth noting that the proposed cuts at McChord have the potential of affecting not only the administration of the base, but also the administration of the 62nd Airlift Wing’s mission.  As you may know, the Army maintains two separate command structures at neighboring Ft. Lewis: a garrison command for oversight of the base and its functions, and a mission command for oversight over the units deployed from the base.  The Air Force, on the other hand, combines both garrison command and mission command within the same structure at McChord AFB: the 62nd Airlift Wing.  Cuts in the administration of the base may have the unintended consequence of cutting into the administration of the air mobility mission of the Wing.  While local Air Force personnel agree that some efficiencies might be achieved through jointness (such as in the area of contracting), they have also informed me that given the high operations tempo at McChord AFB, they do not know how 567 positions can be eliminated at McChord AFB without affecting their ability to carry out their mission.

With these questions in mind, we respectfully request that you carefully examine the Joint Base Lewis-McChord proposal and its impact on the air mobility mission.  Like the Commission, we want to ensure that our nation is well positioned to protect itself from external threats and that its Armed Forces have the appropriate manpower they need to fulfill their mission.  We look forward to working with you to implement the current base realignment and closure round to ensure the improved security of the United States.



 PATTY MURRAY                                                                  MARIA CANTWELL

United States Senator                                                               United States Senator


NORM DICKS                                                                       ADAM SMITH

Member of Congress                                                                Member of Congress

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) today voted in favor of H.R. 2862, the Science-State-Justice Appropriations for FY 2006. While Smith was pleased that funds were included for several important local projects, he is concerned about the lack of funding of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Edward Byrne Memorial Formula Grants, both of which help fund increased policing efforts in local communities.

“I am pleased that the Committee included their support for valuable programs and organizations such as the Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe Gang Prevention Program and World Vision’s ‘Vision Youth Program’ which leads local tutoring and mentoring activities,” said Smith. “These, among others, are programs and organizations that I have lent my support to in this year’s appropriations process.”

Smith, however, is concerned about the level of funding for the COPS program which he sees as critical for the safety and security of the citizens of Washington State.

“Washington State’s first responders rely on these funds for the personnel, training, support and equipment they need,” said Smith. “In the last ten years, the COPS Hiring program has added hundreds of officers to Washington State law enforcement agencies. As a result, crime has gone down in our local communities. Over the past few days, I have voted for several amendments that would fully fund this program and it is my hope that when this bill reaches the conference committee, COPS funding will be fully implemented.”

Smith is also concerned about the funding level for Byrne grants, given to States to help in the fight against crime. Many task forces created by Byrne grants in Washington State are facing massive cuts. In the Ninth Congressional District, alone, three task forces will be affected. The Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team, located in South King County, will be cut by 76%, the Tacoma Regional Drug Task Force will be reduced by 62% and the Thurston County Narcotics Team will be reduced by 20%.

“The cuts to these programs are disappointing because they have been effective partners in fighting crime,” said Smith. “As a former prosecutor, I know how important it is for law enforcement agencies to have the staffing and tools needed to effectively fight crime. The Byrne Grants were an effective tool in providing our crime fighters with what they need. It’s my hope that, during the conference committee, greater funding will be provided for Byrne Grants and I will work with my colleagues toward that goal.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) on Thursday, June 9th 2005, successfully attached language to the State Department Authorization for FY 2006 and 2007 urging the U.S. to do more to address global poverty.

Due to Smith’s efforts, the House International Relations Committee, of which Smith is a member, agreed to include language declaring that the elimination of extreme global poverty should be a top priority of U.S. foreign policy. It also says the U.S. should work with all the players involved, including developing countries, donor countries and multilateral institutions to coordinate policy to address global poverty. Finally, the language urges the President to develop a comprehensive strategy to eliminate global poverty, which should include foreign assistance, foreign and local investment, technical assistance, private-public partnerships and debt relief.

Smith has been deeply focused on the issue of global poverty and in March, 2005 he participated in the Trade and Poverty Forum in Nagoya Japan.  The forum brought together leaders from the business, political and NGO communities to develop strategies for combating poverty.  Smith understands that our nation must make a greater commitment to poverty alleviation and view these efforts as an investment that can foster global stability and security, build alliances throughout the world and reduce the sense of hopelessness that drives so many extremist organizations like the al Qaeda network.  He is committed to helping marshal the political and social will to address global poverty. 

“Global poverty is a destabilizing force around the world. I am pleased that my colleagues on the International Relations Committee also recognize that this is a very serious issue and that the United States has a moral obligation and a strategic need to help eradicate global poverty.”

 The State Department language is one more step in Smith’s broader efforts on this issue.  Smith plans to introduce a broader House Resolution this week that will call for a comprehensive study that will detail the American strategy for addressing poverty.

“I am pleased that H.R. 1815, the Fiscal Year 2006 Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization bill, passed the House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA).  “As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I was proud to help craft this legislation through the committee process and on the Floor of the House.  While not perfect, the Defense Authorization bill is a positive step forward in providing our Veterans and servicemen and women the resources they deserve. This bill includes a number of provisions to support the members of our Armed Forces and our Veterans and also includes much-needed improvements in troop strength and equipment.  Importantly, this legislation moves toward ending the injustice of the Disabled Veteran’s Tax and it improves bonuses for the men and women in our Guard and Reserve forces.”


Specifically, the Authorization Bill included the following provisions that directly affect units in the Puget Sound region:

$60 million in school impact aid for schools nationwide (including schools in the Puget Sound area):

The Education Department’s Impact Aid program provides supplementary funds to school districts nationwide to support the education of nearly 600,000 children of servicemen and women. This bill authorizes $60 million in Defense Department funding for impact aid spending in FY 2006, a $10 million increase in FY 2005.

$25 million for “Up-Armored HMMWV and Tactical Truck Crew Trainers”

This top priority of the Washington Army National Guard will allow soldiers to train for convoy operations in humvees and other tactical trucks, a critical need for soldiers preparing for deployment to Iraq.

$1.5 million for construction of the Homeland Security Multi-Functional Education Center at Camp Murray, Washington

This project would consist of a 6,190 square foot, single story multi-functional Homeland Security education center. The new facility will support the 205th Training Regiment which has a Total Army School System (TASS) mission for units in the Pacific Northwest as well as agency supported activities. This project will improve the readiness of Army National Guard units as well as first responders in the Puget Sound area.

$2.0 million for Madigan Army Medical Center Trauma Assistance (Tacoma Trauma Trust)

Smith was pleased to help authorize funding for this critical military-civilian emergency health care partnership facilitated by the Tacoma Trauma Trust (TTT), a unique military-civilian partnership (MultiCare Health System, Franciscan Health System and Madigan Army Medical Center). TTT shares in the delivery of critical Level II trauma care to South King, Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston counties and southwest Washington as well as much needed trauma training for medical personnel.

$961.4 million to fully fund President Bush’s request for the Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA)

This critical program would adapt and upgrade Boeing 737s, in Boeing’s Renton plant, in order to conduct defense and homeland security-related missions. The MMA will replace the aging fleet of Navy P-3C aircraft with a technologically superior mission system that will allow it to perform anti-submarine warfare missions, homeland security surveillance and other important functions.

$2 million for M-65 Bismaleimide Carbon Fiber Prepeg development for Automated Placement Machines

This funding would go towards qualifying an improved carbon fiber tape technology used to process large, high quality aircraft structures. This technology, developed by Hexcel Structures, a company with manufacturing facilities in Kent, WA, will be used to more efficiently manufacture the military’s F-35 and F-22 aircraft.

$3.7 million for “mounted Warrior Nomad Command: Control Head Up Display (C2HUD)

For use by the Stryker Brigades stationed at Fort Lewis, the C2HUD, an integral part of the Mounted Warrior system, will increase force protection and unit lethality by providing the combat crewman’s situational awareness link to the vehicle’s command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) systems remotely via secure, encrypted means.  The head up display will operate in all soldier mission areas, employing information management systems, operations planning, situational awareness, terrain navigation, long range sensors, target acquisition, and identification systems while mounted, dismounted and at platform crew stations. The system also has significant potential for commercial spin off for the technology and is designed by Microvision, a Puget Sound-based company.


“Having worked for many years to improve our military and the Pentagon through the use of technology, I am pleased that this bill also included my provision for the National Defense University (NDU) Technology Pilot program,” said Smith. “I have long supported this important program and am proud to work with the experts at NDU who are continuing to leverage our technological innovations to maintain the most advanced military in the world."

$1 million for the NDU Technology Pilot Program

The purpose of this project is to conduct research and analysis to determine how the United States can maintain its competitive edge against other military adversaries at a time when commercial information technology (IT) is readily available on the global market. Through a series of workshops, conferences, research papers and publications, the NDU has developed new strategies to deal with this issue.



Overall, the bill provides a 3.1% pay raise for members of the Armed Forces and increases amounts paid for active duty enlistments, reserve enlistments and active-duty re-enlistments. It also permanently increases the death gratuity to $100,000 and it increases the maximum amount of hardship pay from $300 to $750 per month.


Until last year, military retired pay had to be reduced by the amount of any Veterans Administration (VA) disability compensation received. Under “concurrent receipt,” disabled Veterans can receive both their Social Security and Veteran’s Disability benefits concurrently. The FY 2004 Defense Authorization Act directed that the prohibition on concurrent receipt of disability compensation and military retirement pay be phased out over 10 years for disabled Veterans wounded in combat, Veterans with combat-related injuries, including all National Guard and reserve members, and every veteran whose disabilities are rated 50% or greater.

The bill moves up the date for full receipt for 100% disabled veterans – defined by being unemployable – to October 1, 2009, four years and three months earlier than currently scheduled.


The bill expands the military health care system, TRICARE, for Guard and Reserve program to include dental benefits. This means that Guard and Reserve members, who are eligible for TRICARE health coverage beginning 90 days before their call-up and for 180 days after their deployment, are now also available for dental care coverage.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement today on H.R. 1815, the FY 2006 National Defense Authorization Act:

“I’m pleased that this bill includes a number of provisions to support our troops and veterans including a 3.1% pay increase across-the-board for all our servicemen and women, incentives and bonuses for our Guard and Reserve, including a $15,000 enlistment bonus, and $3.3 billion for better force protection for our troops, including more up-armoured Humvees, body armor and jammers. As more servicemen and women encounter the stresses of combat, I’m pleased that the House adopted an amendment that would improve the awareness of mental-health treatment availability and to reduce the stigma associated with mental health care for our servicemembers.”

PLEASE NOTE: A more comprehensive press release of provisions included in the bill, particularly those affecting the Puget Sound region, will be available tomorrow.