Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement regarding the U.S. Army’s plan to form a new Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a decision that will bring 1,400 new soldiers and 44 new helicopters to JBLM:

“The addition of 1,400 soldiers and 44 helicopters to Joint Base Lewis-McChord is terrific news for the South Sound and Washington State. It’s an honor for our community to become the home of another important military asset, and we will continue to see the benefits of job and business growth for years to come.

“The Army has carefully studied this issue and their decision to consolidate existing aviation units and establish a Combat Aviation Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord affirms the strategic importance of the base. No other joint base in the nation sustains an operational force of this range and size.

“As the largest employer in Pierce County, Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a key economic engine for the South Sound. The stationing of this aviation unit will be another gain for businesses that serve the region, providing new opportunities for civilian job growth as well as additional military personnel.

“The population of the Joint Base has undergone rapid growth since 2003, when then-Fort Lewis supported 19,000 military members. Today the Joint Base includes over 43,000 military personnel. As more families settle into the JBLM community, I remain committed to working with the joint base, as well as state and local officials, at addressing the pressing infrastructure needs both on and off base.

“I would like to personally welcome the 1,400 new soldiers and families who will soon be calling the Pacific Northwest home.”

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(Please note: The Army’s Record of Decision will be in the federal register March 31, 2011).