Opinion Columns & Blogs

Trust, collaboration yield successful rocket test

Morgan Courtesy

Last month, Joint Base Lewis-McChord completed an important artillery mission, firing — for the first time at JBLM — High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) reduced-range practice rockets to measure the rockets’ sound waves.

All 27 rounds were fired safely and accurately. More importantly, readings on the Army Public Health Center’s off-base sound monitors were below 130 decibels, the threshold recommended in the 2016 environmental assessment for the test to determine whether to proceed after the first rounds were fired.

The Public Health Center is preparing a report on the practice rocket test. We will review the results and collaborate with our community partners to determine the future of HIMARS.

Currently, no decision has been made.

September’s test firing concluded a deliberate and collaborative two-year process between JBLM and neighboring communities. From preparing the environmental assessment to community open houses and public notices, JBLM strove to ensure local communities were involved.

I would like to thank the Nisqually Indian Tribe for their cooperation and collaboration in finding a way to conduct the test that is so vitally linked to one of the principal weapons being used in overseas operations.

I also thank the citizens of DuPont, Lacey, Yelm and Roy who — in addition to the Nisqually tribe — were the people most likely to experience the new sound of the HIMARS practice rockets’ firing at JBLM.

Army and Air Force readiness training requires year-round home-station training, and we understand artillery, helicopter and airplane training, and military convoys have a cumulative effect off base. We ask much of our neighbors, and we truly appreciated the opportunity to move forward with the rocket tests.

We also appreciate the phone, email and social media community feedback during the tests. Along with the sound data, citizen feedback is important.

Finally, thank you to the soldiers who conducted the test safely, plus our JBLM workforce, the Washington State Patrol and the Department of Transportation, who all had vital roles.

Trust, transparency, collaboration and collective responsibility were all key in making the HIMARS practice rocket test-firing successful for all stakeholders’ interests.

Daniel S. Morgan is commander of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.