JBLM downsizing: 1 Stryker Brigade, 4,500 soldiers to go

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD -- Earlier this month, 180 soldiers with the 4th Stryker Brigade at JBLM returned from Afghanistan to a hero's welcome. Some met their newborn children for the first time.

Now, it looks like those troops will be leaving JBLM for good.

“Our goal is to make sure it's done right,” said Col. David Johnson, a spokesman for JBLM. “With our eye on taking care of soldiers and their families.”

Over the next four years, most of the 4,500 troops who make up the 4th Stryker Brigade, and their families, will be transferred to other units out of state. The entire brigade is being cut.

Top brass knew the cuts were coming, but losing a Stryker Brigade was considered the worst case scenario.

The pain will be felt beyond the confines of the base.

“Probably 90 to 95 percent of our customers are military,” said Tammy Fisher, who manages Farrelli’s Pizza, just off base.

When any number of troops are deployed, it hurts business. Losing 4,500 will hurt even more.

“It will directly affect our business,” said Fisher. “We basically fill up for lunch every day and when we do, it's a sea of camouflage.

The shopping area known as Dupont Station was built in 2006 in reaction to the thousands of additional troops that poured into JBLM during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The news that the 4th Stryker Brigade is being deactivated comes as nearby Forza Coffee is getting ready to break out a back wall and expand, doubling the shop's size.

“It scares us, very much so,” said Tammy Chamberlain, a manager at Forza. “ But it's in the works and we're doing everything we can to survive so we can make it work.”

Communities throughout the country will be affected.

The Army is eliminating 11 other combat brigades. With the Iraq war over and the Afghan war soon to be, it’s part of a plan to eventually cut 80,000 troops from the service.