South Puget Sound’s Military Installations
Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM)
The original Camp Lewis was created in 1917 when the citizens of Pierce County voted to buy 68,721 acres of land and donate it to the federal government for use as a permanent army post. In 1927, the county passed a bond measure to establish an airfield just north of the military reservation. The airfield, named Tacoma Field, officially opened March 14, 1930, and was later renamed McChord Field in 1940 in honor of Colonel William McChord.
On February 1, 2010, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) was established in accordance with congressional legislation implementing the recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The Commission ordered the consolidation of facilities which were adjoining, but separate military installations, into a single joint base – JBLM was one of 12 joint bases formed in the United States as a result of the law. JBLM has been hailed as the most successful of these Joint Bases.
Commissioned as a National Guard Base in 1889, Camp Murray is headquarters of the Washington Military Department (WMD), which includes the Washington Army and Air National Guards.The Washington Military Department is also home to the Emergency Operations Center, the state’s headquarters for emergency responses. The Washington National Guard is defined by its state and federal mission. At the call of the governor, the Guard will mobilize and deploy during times of state emergency to augment local jurisdictions and responders in their efforts to protect lives and property. The Guard is also subject to the call of the President of the United States to serve as part of the total U.S. military force.
Service Members in the Community
Seventy-percent of the 40,000+ servicemembers and 50,000+ family members assigned to JBLM live off-base in the surrounding communities. In 2013, a South Sound Military & Communities Partnership survey found that approximately 60% live in Pierce County and nearly 33% lived in Thurston County. The Washington National Guard does not provide housing to its members, so all of our Guard personnel are truly members of their communities, just like anyone working in the civilian sector.
Washington State Military Presence
Washington State has the 6th highest regional concentration of military presence in the US.
According to the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation’s Defense Spending by State, Fiscal Year 2021, Washington is the 9th top state for Department of Defense spending in the US with $7.4 billion in payroll for 110,887 personnel.
Of the top 10 defense companies doing business in 2021 in the US, the 3rd largest (Boeing) is located in Washington State. The top 10 defense contractors in Washington State made a total of $11.7 billion in 2021.
Learn More About Joint Base Lewis McChord and Camp Murray
Military Spending in Washington
From Office of Economic Adjustment’s Defense Spending by State Fiscal Year 2021
Northwest Military History
Provide relevant and ready expeditionary units to the combatant commander as part of a joint team.
Thriving on community partnership
Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) began out of true community partnership.
In 1917, Pierce County acquired 70,000 acres of Washington land and donated it to the federal government to create Camp Lewis, named in honor of Meriwether Lewis, the leader of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806. In 1927, after the Camp was found to be in great disrepair, the War Department decided to construct new facilities there and turn it into a permanent post–Fort Lewis.
In 1929, work began on a Pierce County airfield north of Fort Lewis. Originally named Tacoma Field, it was transferred to the U.S. Government in 1938, and on July 3, 1940, the Army Air Force’s newest bomber base was dedicated as McChord Field, named in honor of Colonel William C. McChord. The field became independent of Fort Lewis in 1947 after the U.S. Air Force was established as a separate service, and was redesignated McChord Air Force Base (AFB) in on January 1, 1948.
In 2010, Fort Lewis and McChord AFB merged to become Joint Base Lewis-McChord as a result of a 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission recommendation. JBLM is the largest Army-led joint base in the United States and is the only Army Power Projection Platform west of the Rocky Mountains.
The United States Army I Corps commands most Army units at JBLM and conducts planning and liaison with other assigned active and Reserve component units located in the continental United States. It is one of four corps headquarters in the active Army, and one of three based in the continental United States. I Corps has been designated as one of the active Army’s contingency corps. I Corps stays prepared to deploy on short notice worldwide to command up to five divisions or a joint task force.
62nd Airlift Wing
The 62nd Airlift Wing is the primary United States Air Force active duty wing on JBLM-McChord Field. The wing is part of Air Mobility Command and provides the Department of Defense a fast, flexible, and responsive airlift capability, with a primary mission to develop and sustain expeditionary Airmen to deliver global airlift for America. In addition, as the provider of the Prime Nuclear Airlift Force, the 62nd is the only wing in the Department of Defense tasked to airlift nuclear weapons and materials.