Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Tuesday ended a six-day lockdown of about 100 Stryker soldiers who were punished as a group while officers searched for $600,000 worth of missing gear that belonged to their unit.
The Army has not located the missing equipment, which includes night vision goggles, laser sights and rifle scopes. The soldiers were assigned to a single company in the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
“The restriction has served its purpose and there was nothing further to be gained by keeping the soldiers on post,” said Maj. Jennifer Willis, spokeswoman for the brigade.
The soldiers were allowed to go home about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. They’ve generally been confined to barracks and their battalion headquarters since Jan. 4.
“The Army takes property accountability very seriously,” 4th Brigade commander Col. Michael Getchell said in a news release. “These restrictions have been an integral part of the investigation, and it is the professional response the American taxpayer expects when over $600,000 worth of Army equipment is suspected to be stolen.”
The Army Criminal Investigative Division is still offering a $10,000 reward for information that helps officers find the gear. It can be reached at 253-967-3151.
Lockdowns are a normal part of military discipline, but the lengthy restrictions on the soldiers drew criticism from 4th Brigade veterans involved in local anti-war groups. They said the lockdown should have focused on top leaders.
The brigade had planned a town hall meeting for soldiers and families to discuss the lockdown this weekend. It’s not clear whether that discussion will still take place.