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4-2 Stryker Brigade headed for changes at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Estimated a majority of the brigade's soldiers will stay at JBLM

4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry, "Raiders," was formed in 2005 and activated on June 1, 2006.

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Besides being lethal, flexible and agile, the Army is adaptable to change.

The country's largest armed force is cutting it combat brigades from 45 to 32 and shifting thousands of soldiers as it moves toward the goal of trimming the service by 80,000 as it pivots toward challenges in the Pacific.

Army officials say the change will eliminate brigades at 10 Army bases in the United States by 2017. The number of soldiers will be reduced from a high of 570,000 during recent combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to 490,000.

"All of these end strength and force structure decisions were developed to respond to previous budget cuts and prior to the implementation of sequestration," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told the House Armed Service Committee in September 2013.

Sequestration and change have targeted 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division for inactivation.

This means that Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) will lose about 4,500 positions for active-duty soldiers as the Army restructures.

The force reductions will not take place overnight, and it could take several years for South Sound communities to feel their loss.

Currently there are about 34,000 active-duty soldiers stationed at JBLM. With the upcoming inactivation of 4th Brigade and the creation of two additional battalions for 2nd and 3rd Stryker Brigades, the number of soldiers may remain close to where it is today once the force structure change is completed in 2017.

4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry, "Raiders," was formed in 2005 and activated on June 1, 2006.

It is comprised of six battalions and six other company sized units.

4th Brigade's deactivation ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. March 14 at Watkins Field. 

Five of the brigade's six battalions will reflag under 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo. 

The brigade was one of the Army's six planned active component Stryker brigades built around the Stryker combat vehicle. The unit has the distinction of being the last US Army combat brigade to serve in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"We were hoping not be the brigade to inactivate," said Capt. Kenneth Coleman, the brigade's public affairs officer. 

To meet the upcoming change, JBLM leadership has taken a proactive stance through the holding of town hall meetings.

Both Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander, 7th Infantry Division, and Col. Jody Miller, commander, 4th Brigade, have been instrumental through the use of town hall meetings to keep their soldiers informed of upcoming changes.

The Army is working to balance soldiers' request for new units with the service's broader needs Miller told soldiers at one of the meetings.

"You can request a certain assignment," he said. "Doesn't mean you'll get it, but you can absolutely request it."

Miller also pointed out that the Army does not want to let soldiers leave the unit until they have lined up their next assignment.

"I don't want to penalize families that have children in school," Lanza said in explaining the phased-out departure of the brigade.

"Even though we inactivate the unit and rollup the colors, there still will be soldiers around because they have children in school."

Best estimates currently predict that a majority of the brigade's soldiers will stay at JBLM and will be used to "plus up" both 2nd and 3rd Brigades - the two other Stryker units at JBLM.

Other soldiers may go to Fort Carson, Colo. where a number of 2nd Brigade's subordinate units will relocate.

"Our job is to work hard and take every soldier's situation into consideration and work to transition all of our Raiders to a new team," Miller said.

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