U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) made the following statement today concerning the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission’s final votes on the proposed Joint Base Lewis-McChord:
“The BRAC Commission tackled a difficult assignment in shaping the future of our military forces to ensure that they continue to be the world’s best and most effective fighting force.
Throughout the entire BRAC process, I along with other Members of the Washington State delegation, have asked questions and raised concerns, particularly on the implementation of the proposed Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the proposed reduction in jobs affiliated with McChord Air Force Base (AFB). Having written two letters to the Commission, outlining these concerns, I was pleased to note that the Commission is taking an approach that allows affected military units to give input into how manpower levels should be derived as opposed to the original proposal from the Department of Defense that directed a prescribed number of jobs to be cut.
On the much larger question of the current BRAC round and the proposed Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I applaud the Commission’s recognition of the important military assets we have in the Northwest. Our distinctive geography, unique military assets and dedicated servicemen and women, combine to position Northwest facilities as highly valuable for our nation’s security. I also applaud the Commission’s efforts to better leverage local assets and improve efficiency through joint basing, particularly the proposed Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Since this is a new concept, it is difficult to foresee the full implications of the proposal, but the concept has merit and I am encouraged that the Commission gave power to the local commanders to have direct input into how the realignment will be implemented. The Joint Base concept has the potential to bolster efficiency and joint operations, which are critical to a modern-day fighting force.
I was also pleased to see that the Commission will propose an amendment that will allow for members of the Air Force to continue to receive medical treatment at McChord, while moving the bulk of military families and retirees to the much larger medical facility located next door at Fort Lewis. While questions still remain concerning the impact on jobs that this move will create, I believe that this is a step in the right direction and represents progress in addressing our concerns.
I will continue to monitor the military situation both in the 9th District and throughout the country and I will work to ensure that our military and those who serve in it are given the best equipment and the right assets to continue to do the great and heroic work that they do each and every day.”