Joint Base Lewis-McChord, poised to receive some 17,000 soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan this summer, changed leadership on Tuesday as the Army's senior officer at the base, Lt. General Charles Jacoby Jr., relinquished command after nearly three years on the job.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, poised to receive some 17,000 soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan this summer, changed leadership on Tuesday as the Army’s senior officer at the base, Lt. General Charles Jacoby Jr., relinquished command after nearly three years on the job.
Jacoby headed I Corps as it nearly tripled in size and shifted from a headquarters unit at the Western Washington base to a combat force that spent a year in Iraq coordinating U.S. Army operation.
Though many questions still surround Iraq’s future, Jacoby believes that 2009, the year I Corps arrived in Baghdad, will eventually be viewed “as the pivot point in our Iraq campaign.”
In remarks at the change-of-command ceremony, he said the “prospects for peace and prosperity became a little brighter” during I Corps’ deployment.
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Jacoby heads off to the Pentagon, where he will serve as director of strategic policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At Lewis-McChord, Jacoby is being replaced on an interim basis by Major Gen. John Johnson, who will remain in the job through the summer as the base swells with the returning soldiers.
The Army has worked to bolster support for returning soldiers and also improve their medical screening to better detect traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems that may result from repeated deployments to war zones.
Just last month, the joint base came under withering criticism from returning Oregon Guard soldiers who said they felt their unit was being given second-class treatment by the staff at Madigan Army Medical Center on the base, where, they believed, active-duty soldiers were favored.
Those complaints were relayed to the Oregon congressional delegation and triggered an oversight visit from Army Vice Chief of Staff Pete Chiarelli.
At the change-of-command ceremony, Johnson said I Corps is working closely with Madigan in an effort to have enough medical staff and social workers to support the returning soldiers. He said a team of Madigan and Army officials will meet weekly to track the soldiers’ return to the base and identify any concerns.
“I am supremely confident that we have the right kind of leaders in place,” Johnson said. “But every case is a little bit different so we want to stay on our toes.”
Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or firstname.lastname@example.org