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If Joint Base Lewis-McChord Is Like A City, She's The New Mayor

Will James
A July 28, 2017, ceremony marked the start of Col. Nicole Lucas's tenure as garrison commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. From left: Col. Dan Morgan; Brenda Lee McCullough; and Lucas

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a major military installation. But it's also like a city where about 60,000 service members, civilians, and contractors go to work every day. 

The garrison commander is like the mayor of that city. And the base just got a new one.

Col. Nicole Lucas took the helm in a ceremony Friday. As garrison commander, she oversees the infrastructure and day-to-day operations of the base, including roads, sewers, housing, fire services and law enforcement. 

But, as she told supporters and troops at the ceremony, part of the job is ensuring soldiers and aviators are ready to deploy at a moment's notice.

"The missions that you accomplish on a daily basis and the role that we play in maintaining joint force readiness is critical to our nation's ability to project power, fight and win," she said.

Lucas is the first woman to serve as garrison commander since the joint base formed in 2010. 

But the base has had female leadership in the recent past. Col. Cynthia Murphy served as garrison commander of Fort Lewis immediately before the Army base merged with McChord Air Force Base.

Lucas comes to the Northwest from Washington, D.C., where she served as the Pentagon's Strategy and Readiness Division Chief.

She takes over for Col. Dan Morgan, who served as garrison commander since August 2015. Morgan is moving to New York for a post at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Garrison commander is typically a two-year assignment. 

Brenda Lee McCullough, a leader in the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, noted that Morgan had to oversee deep Pentagon-mandated job cuts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"His two years of command were marked by transformation, innovation and challenges due to military and civilian drawdowns along with deep fiscal constraints," she said.

She added that Morgan "managed all challenges through collaboration, strategic planning, and partnerships."

Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky, the commander of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, praised Morgan for his "infectious positive attitude" and ability to solve problems. 

Lucas said one of her first tasks as garrison commander is reaching out to leaders in nearby cities.

Will James reports and produces special projects, including podcasts and series, for KNKX. He created and hosted the Outsiders podcast, chronicling homelessness in Olympia for more than a year, in partnership with The Seattle Times.
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