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State may ask feds to place Stryker Brigade at Camp Murray

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State may ask feds to place Stryker Brigade at Camp Murray

A state Senate committee took testimony and then approved a measure that would ask President Barack Obama and Pentagon officials to transition the Washington National Guard's 81st Armored Brigade Combat Team to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Senate Joint Memorial 8008 is now being prepared to head to the floor of the state Senate.

State Sen. Steve Hobbs, who is spearheading the measure, noted during the hearing that the non-binding resolution is just a request, “But the fact of the matter is we need to get our congressional delegation focused on this issue. The active Army is deciding whether to give a Stryker Brigade to the National Guard and we would like to be a recipient of a Stryker Brigade.”

“This is kind of exciting,” said state Sen. Pam Roach, who chairs the Senate Government and Operations and Security Committee.

Brigadier General Wallace Turner testified before the committee, noting that as the Assistant Adjutant General, he represents more than 6,000 members of the Army National Guard.

As Turner was in Olympia, The Adjutant General, Major General Bret D. Daugherty, was meeting with federal officials in Washington, D.C. advocating for the Stryker Brigade measure along with other priorities.

“It is the TAG’s No. 1 strategic priority in this state,” Turner told the state committee. “It’s going to enhance our readiness. It’s a resource saver … and you may or may not be aware that there are seven combat brigades across the nation and there is one Stryker brigade combat team located in the state of Pennsylvania.”

Hobbs, a major in the Washington National Guard, and Turner both noted that the proximity of Camp Murray, where the Washington National Guard is, to the Stryker Center of Excellence at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which could be utilized to do repairs and maintenance of Stryker vehicles.

“This is a commonsense approach and it makes sense to station the next Stryker brigade in the Washington Army National Guard,” Turner said. “It gives the Army strategic platform and formation to look at the Pacific region. It also gives the Northwest region a wheeled capability to respond to domestic emergencies with an enhanced communications suite that we currently don’t have.”

Hobbs told the committee he sees a particular use for Strykers to help respond to domestic emergencies.

“It allows us to trade out our older, heavy combat vehicles,” Hobbs said, referring to the vehicles used currently by the 81st Armored Brigade Combat Team. “Right now, we have heavy Bradley vehicles and M1A1 tanks – which are 50-plus tons. … There’s a use for Strykers for domestic response when dealing with fires, floods and other potential disasters because, really, there is no use for an M1A1 Abrams tank or a Bradley fighting vehicle in a disaster response. It’s pretty hard to maneuver a Bradley in a flood. Take it from me, I was in a Bradley.”

Last summer, the governors and The Adjutant Generals of Washington, Oregon, and California sent a letter to the Pentagon requesting the Stryker brigade be assigned to the Washington National Guard.