Saying it will improve soldiers’ quality of life and continue modernizing the Army, Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith is leading efforts to bring the Army’s on-line learning initiative to Fort Lewis as a pilot project.

“eArmyU will ensure that our Army Personnel have access to educational opportunities,” said Smith. “What’s more, it provides a real service to the men and women serving in the Army and will bolster our recruitment and retention efforts.”

eArmyU is an innovative new program announced by Army Secretary Louis Caldera at Fort Lewis earlier this year that expands Army soldiers’ access to education through on-line distance learning. 

eArmyU will offer educational opportunities from a diverse consortium of colleges, universities and technical schools linked by computer technology. “Soldiers would be able to access on-line courseware anytime, anywhere,” explained Smith, “so that deployments overseas would not interfere with progress toward a degree.” Each soldier will be issued a tech package consisting of a laptop computer, printer, Internet access and technical support. eArmy U has a six-year price tag of $550 million with $50 million in FY01. 

On Monday, Smith spoke with Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera to urge Fort Lewis’s selection as a pilot site. “Secretary Caldera was very positive, and he assured me that our proposal would be closely looked at,” said Smith. “He also noted that community support, from county and city leaders to businesses to Fort Lewis personnel, would be an instrumental factor.”

Last week, Smith convened a meeting attended by leaders from throughout Pierce County. Supporters of bringing eArmyU to Fort Lewis include the Port of Tacoma, Lakewood Mayor Bill Harrison, the Washington State Software Alliance, the Frank Russell Company, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce.
According to the Army, the two or three pilot sites will be selected based on a number of factors including:

An adequate number of qualified soldiers;
An adequate Internet and telecommunications infrastructure; and
Portability: soldiers that are on rotations oversees.
The Army has also indicated that site selection would occur on or about September 8.