JBLM takes measures to reduce noise disturbance

By J.M. Simpson on April 20, 2022

The sound of demolition, mortar and artillery training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord - particularly at night - ofttimes leads to complaints from the surrounding communities.

"We owe the people in those communities an explanation for the noise," began Joe Piek, a public affairs officer at JBLM, "and we work very hard to minimize the disruption of the public's evenings."

JBLM's noise mitigation efforts began a number of years ago when its range support office began providing prior notices of evening and/or late-night training for mortars, artillery and demolitions.

Piek said that his office takes this information and disseminates it to print news, social media, the JBLM website, and to several hundred people who have requested notification via email.

"We are providing predictability to the surrounding communities in order to minimize disruptions to the public's evenings," Piek continued. "But we will train as we fight."

He also made it clear that this applies only to night firings; there is no notification of routine daytime training. Prior to the pandemic, this approach worked.

"We were fielding approximately 70 to 90 calls a year before COVID struck," explained Piek, "and that was down from over 300 calls a few years earlier."

During the pandemic, however, many people began to work at home. As a result, the number of calls about daytime training noise increased.

"We were doing nothing different than before," he explained, "and when day - as opposed to night - training picked up in the summer of 2020, we began to receive more noise complaints due to people working at home," continued Piek.

He also explained why demolition, mortar and artillery training is not conducted solely at the Yakima Training Center.

"We conduct home station training at JBLM because it focuses on small unit training and the individual soldiers," continued Piek. "When we conduct training at Yakima, however, it is to bring all the individualized unit training together into a collective and larger effort; it is much more intense."

What Piek said aligns with the training that mortar, demolition and artillery units conduct at JBLM.

"We are very well aware of the communities' concerns about noise," commented 1Lt. Matthew Giannetta, assistant operations officer, 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2ndDivision, a part of 7th Infantry Division, during recent artillery training at JBLM. "We are also challenged to produce qualified, lethal firing platoons to do the mission," he added.

In line with the small unit training concept, the regiment's Alpha Battery recently completed a week of training designed around the use and coordination of ground electronic warfare (EW) programs and the battery's M777 155 howitzers.

The Tactical Electronic Warfare System, or TEWS, is an all-weather, 24-hour ground tactical electronic support and attack system, and is a component of modern warfare that uses the electromagnetic spectrum (i.e., the airwaves) to detect, listen to, jam and deceive enemy radars, radio communication systems, data links, and other electronic systems.

"We have the ability to detect the location of electronic activity, triangulate on it, develop a fire plan and relay that information to the guns in a couple of minutes," explained Capt. Michael Aldykiewicz, commander, Alpha Battery.

Several miles downrange, a very small transmitter and radio attached to a four-foot-high wood tripod emitted a signal.

Standing at the firing point, Aldykiewicz and SSgt. Vaea Malautea, the platoon sergeant, watched intently as the crew on Gun 2 received a fire mission and prepared to fire.

A cannoneer brought up a 100-pound artillery round to have its fuse verified. Once done, it was then loaded onto the gun's tray. Then a charge was brought up and verified.

The cannoneer checked that the bore was clear; then the round was rammed into the gun; next the charge was placed; the breech closed and the gun was ready to fire.

Moments later, SSgt. Yudha Putra yelled "Fire!" Several miles away, the round found its target.

"We've already mitigated the noise levels when we train here; we use the lowest charges possible; and we are aware of the public's concerns," commented Aldykiewicz.

For more information and training notices on noise mitigation, visit the JBLM homepage at https://home.army.mil/lewis-mcchord/index.php. To find out how to receive prior notification of demolition, mortar and artillery training, call the JBLM Garrison hotline at 253-967-0852 or 253-967-0147.