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Locals Protest Proposal To Cut Thousands Of Jobs At JBLM

File photo of Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott
File photo of Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.

It was standing room only at times as around 500 people turned out to voice their concerns to Army leaders about possible cuts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Wednesday night. 

The base has more than 27,000 active duty soldiers and 13,000 civilians. The cuts as proposed would eliminate up to 90,000 positions worldwide. For JBLM, that could mean up to 11,000 soldiers and civilians out of work.

Officials at JBLM say the cuts will likely happen this fall after a decision by the Army in late summer.

The Army is hosting 30 listening sessions across the country as the Pentagon considers where to make reductions.

Governor Jay Inslee, officials and representatives from the chambers of commerce from nearby cities like Tacoma, Lakewood and Lacey, and even a local power company, turned out to protest the potential cuts.

Many speakers told Army officials that JBLM is part of a long term partnership with the state and local communities. Governor Inslee said the state has created programs that support soldiers and their families in transition and provides academic credit for military service.

[asset-images[{"caption": "Col. Tom O'Donoghue, Department of the Army, takes notes at a forum at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, as part of a listening tour about about force reductions as a result of federal budget cuts.", "fid": "114874", "style": "offset_left", "uri": "public://201501/COL_JBLM_CUTS.jpg", "attribution": "Credit KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy"}]]Lakewood Deputy Mayor Jason Whalen told Army leaders that the city has invested heavily in the lives of active duty troops and that the Army shouldn’t waste that investment, saying the city was JBLM's "12th Man" -- a reference to Seattle Seahawks' passionate fan base.

Others argued that cutting the force in the Northwest doesn’t make sense strategically given the military's shift to focus on the Pacific Rim.

The Pentagon has been under pressure to reduce the size of the force because of federal budget cuts known as sequestration.