Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash., will soon be home to the headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division, Secretary of the Army John McHugh said recently.
The two-star headquarters, which will oversee the training and readiness of five of the installation’s 10 brigades, will fill an administrative layer between those units and I Corps.
The division headquarters will not be deployable, McHugh said.
"The I Corps headquarters has been very, very busy. It’s only reasonable, it seems to me, to provide that layer of close-on command support just as we have at virtually every other similar-sized base," McHugh said at a press conference on the installation.
The intent is to install a new level of leadership and oversight to support those units, and ensure that soldiers are properly trained, equipped and mentored.
McHugh’s announcement comes after a period of massive growth for the joint base.
Since 2003, the installation has grown by roughly 15,000 soldiers and seen a military construction program totaling $1.75 billion, putting it among the largest bases in the United States.
In spite of this, the base does not have an intermediate level of command between the corps and many of its major subordinate units.
The soon-to-be reactivated division will encompass 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division; 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division; 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division; 17th Fires Brigade and 16th Combat Aviation Brigade – a total of some 17,000 soldiers.
But, as a non-deployable headquarters, the 7th Infantry Division and its estimated 250 personnel will primarily focus on making sure soldiers are properly trained and equipped, and that order and discipline is maintained in its subordinate brigades.
"When you have the number of soldiers, the number of civilian personnel, the number of other service components in one location as they do here at JBLM, [having] eyes on those units is enormously important," McHugh said.
McHugh denied that the decision to create a division on the installation came in response to recent incidents involving soldiers from JBLM, emphasizing that the plan to station a division headquarters on JBLM has been in progress for some time.
He defended the base, saying it faces the same challenges as other similar installations.
"[The installation] is a challenged base to the extent that virtually all our other power projection bases have been challenged, but to suggest that there are numbers of challenges that exist here that don’t exist in other areas is simply incorrect," he said.
The 7th Infantry Division is scheduled for activation on Oct. 1 of this year. Personnel will begin arriving in early summer.
(Editor’s note: This article is based on a story by Marisa Petrich, Northwest Guardian.)