Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza is stepping down after more than four years in leadership posts at JBLM.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza is leaving Joint Base Lewis McChord after serving four years in leadership posts during a key transition of dramatically slower deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq and a new focus on training exercises with Pacific Rim allies.
Through his time at JBLM, he also stepped up networking in the Puget Sound region, reaching out to the University of Washington, tech companies and others to forge deeper partnerships with the base.
“We, as the military, have to stay connected to those we serve,” said Lanza in an interview Thursday with reporters.
Lanza arrived at the Western Washington base in 2012 as commander of the newly created 7th Infantry Division headquarters, which has helped to give more oversight to units that had been shuttling back and forth to war zones.
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On Feb. 6, 2014, he assumed command of I Corps, the top Army leadership position at the base that includes units based in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.
Lanza will step down from that post Monday in a ceremony at JBLM that will transfer command to Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, a Spokane native whose career includes deployments to Iraq and in support of humanitarian operations in Liberia. Volesky is to be promoted to lieutenant general before assuming command.
JBLM’s 50,000 active-duty service members and their families went through a period of dramatic growthafter 9/11. Infantry, artillery and other units deployed repeatedly to combat zones during a difficult and turbulent period for the military that saw mounting physical and mental wounds of war.
Currently, JBLM has some 3,500 troops deployed outside the United States, according to Lanza.
Much of the overseas duty now results from participation in Pacific Pathways, training exercises around the Pacific Rim, including in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Lanza saidPacific Pathways has helped to build the readiness of JBLM soldiers, and also helped to improve the forces in the host countries.
JBLM’s sprawling base, south of Tacoma, is in the heart of the rapidly growing Puget Sound region, a considerably more urban area than the locations of some other major Army installations elsewhere in the country. One of the challenges ahead, Lanza said, will be to retain community support for increased training exercises at JBLM.
The base, he noted, is helping to fuel the growth of the region, with more than 55 percent of JBLM service members who leave active duty staying in the area.
Lanza will retire later this spring and plans to live in the Tacoma area.