The Army's building boom.
The Army is investing some $40 billion over the next five years in military construction to make Army life more attractive to Soldiers and their families, at the same time the service beefs up training, eases the process of deployment preparation, and logically positions units based on present and projected requirements, said USACE's director of military programs, Maj. Gen. Merdith Temple.
Money for Construction
The largest military construction budget since World War II will buy some of the largest facilities in the Army's inventory and some of the most modern anywhere, Temple said.
Among those are a military-operations-in-urbanized-terrain training site at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.; a fitness center at Fort Benning, Ga.; a daycare center at Fort Meyer, Va.; a shopping center at the maneuver-training site at Grafenwohr, Germany; and a barracks-dining facility complex at Camp Humphreys, Korea.
Soldiers and their families can be assured that these facilities are being built to the highest standards, to stand the test of time and use. And unlike the merely functional facilities built during previous wars, what's being built for the Army today is comparable to what's being built in suburban communities across the country--aesthetically pleasing places that include the amenities families need and want.
In today's fast-paced Army--where roughly 75,000 Soldiers and family members will be re-stationed from overseas to the United States between now and 2011, and the active-duty force will increase by nearly 50,000 Soldiers by 2012--military construction is booming, Temple said.
Never before has so much emphasis been placed on Soldiers' and families' qualify of life, whether it be in the modern, suburban-neighborhood-type homes in which they live or the state-of-the-art training facilities at which Soldiers prepare for combat, said Ned Christensen, a spokesman for the Installation Management Command in Arlington, Va.
"Army Secretary Pete Geren and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey signed the Army Family Covenant in October 2007. This initiative ensures Soldiers and their families have a quality of life commensurate with their service," said Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson, the Army's assistant chief of staff for installation management and IMCOM commander.
"The recent 'Grow the Army' decision will expand our ranks by 74,200," he said. "An important element of maintaining the all-volunteer force is the quality of life of our Soldiers and families. The exceptional partnership between IMCOM and USACE has provided the best Army facilities and housing in the world. The Army's 'builders' deliver today's necessities--including style, familiarity, safety, sustainability and environmental friendliness--with their construction packages." [See sidebar, "The Army's Builders."]
Modular Forces Requirements
As an example, as brigade combat teams return from Iraq and Afghanistan, they're moving into completed BCT facilities in the United States, which are being constructed according to a standard BCT-design template, said USACE spokesman Doug Garman.
So Soldiers don't just have a place to live and work, they know--based on the BCT they left behind--where the headquarters, barracks, dining facility, arms room and motor pool are located. The change supports the Army's plan for greater troop flexibility, allowing Soldiers to gather their gear more quickly and be ready to deploy wherever they may be needed, Temple said.
Fort Lewis, Wash., the first Army installation to field a Stryker brigade, will receive $350 million for improvements to accommodate additional combat teams there.
"Since 2004, the number of Soldiers at Fort Lewis has grown from about 21,000 to 32,000," said Thomas Poole, a spokesman for the USACE's Seattle District in Washington.
Many World War II-era facilities at Fort Lewis have been demolished to meet congressional requirements, he said. Until the new facilities can be completed, temporary buildings are being used. For a time, the post may appear to be bursting at the seams.
Child-development and youth centers, as examples, are in short supply in contrast to a burgeoning number of newly arriving families, Poole said. But military construction funds have been requested for additional centers to accommodate the anticipated influx of children.
Fort Lewis will be working with a construction budget of more than $2 billion for fiscal years 2009 to 2013, Poole said. Besides child-development and youth centers, construction will include barracks, battalion and brigade headquarters, a medical/ dental clinic and military treatment facility, fitness center, chapels, fire stations, and an improved facility for ROTC cadets.
Re-stationing of Troops
Elsewhere in the Army, some 21,000 Soldiers and 28,000 family members will move to Fort Bliss, Texas, as a result of the re-stationing of the 1st Armored Division from Germany.
As a result, Fort Bliss is experiencing one of the Corps' largest military construction projects ever, said Col. Ken Cox, commander of the USACE's Southwestern Division.
About $1 billion of construction has begun, to accommodate BCTs at the installation, Cox said. Within the next five years the 1st Armd. Div.'s headquarters, four BCTs and a combat aviation brigade from Fort Hood will call Fort Bliss home.
The overall $2.9 billion Fort Bliss Expansion Program will include 300 new buildings, among them aircraft hangars, barracks, unit-storage and dining facilities, arms rooms and 15 ranges, Cox said.
At Fort Campbell, Ky., home to some 35,000 Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Div., the 5th Special Forces Group and the 160th Spec. Operations Aviation Regiment, among other units, "a tremendous amount of barracks construction is under way," said Lotz.
Construction also includes "a host of support projects," including tactical-equipment maintenance bays and improvements to Campbell Army Airfield that will allow troops to deploy more quickly, Lotz said. After Sept. 11, 2001, a new rail connector was added to the post to cut deployment time from six months to 45 days.
The post is abuzz with new construction--1,500 barracks spaces, one child-development center (with designs in the works for three additional centers) and a new Residential-Communities-Initiative housing development with 500 homes, Lotz said.
At Fort Carson, Colo., where the population is also expected to more than double in the next few years, $1.5 billion has been earmarked through 2013 to support the relocation of two brigades--some 7,600 Soldiers--from Fort Hood, said Capt. John Lory of the USACE's Omaha District in Nebraska. Additionally, the post is preparing for the arrival of 1,000 Soldiers from the 4th Inf. Div.'s headquarters at Fort Hood; the 4th Inf. Div.'s 4th Brigade from Korea and a 10th SF Grp. battalion from Germany.
A sniper range is to be built, as is a U.S. Army Special Operations Command shoot house, a sniper range, a battle-command training center and a warrior-in-transition complex, Lory said.
Changes in Korea
By far the largest ongoing construction project is at Camp Humphreys, said Dennis Bohannon, a spokesman for the assistant chief of staff for installation management at the Pentagon.
The once-small U.S. Garrison Humphreys, located in Pyeongtaek, 55 miles south of Seoul, is undergoing major changes. By 2012 it will accommodate all U.S. forces formerly located near Seoul, and boost the garrison's current population of 10,000 to about 44,000 Soldiers, civilian employees, contractors and family members, said Brig. Gen. Al Aycock, director of IMCOM-Korea Region.
Changes in Europe
In Europe, too, cranes and bulldozers can be found working for the Army in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, said Ken White, chief of public affairs for the IMCOM-Europe region.
Army leaders are still working to determine how many brigades are needed in Europe and where they will be located, he said. Meantime, construction is largely centered in Vicenza, Italy, home to elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team; and in Germany at the Grafenwohr training center and nearby Vilseck and Hohenfels; and Stuttgart, Ansbach, Wiesbaden, Bamberg and Baumholder.
Housing is a focus, to the tune of $140 million, White said. But child-development and physical-fitness centers, post exchanges and commissaries are all included in the lineup of major military construction in Europe, with, among many other projects, a 184,000-square-foot mega mall coming to Wiesbaden, White said.
BRAC 2005 Offshoots
Whole installations are being restructured or shut down as mandated by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The restructuring will precipitate the movement of approximately 55,000 people over the next five years, said Lynne Anderson, deputy chief of ACSIM's BRAC Division in Arlington, Va.
BRAC 2005 recommendations to Congress led to decisions that will shut down 13 installations in the United States and impact 53 other U.S. installations by 2011, Anderson said.
As examples, the U.S. Army Armor Center and School, at Fort Knox, Ky., will move to Fort Benning, Ga., the home of the infantry. Fort Knox will retain the Army Recruiting Command and gain U.S. Army Accessions Command personnel; and Fort Meade, Md., will gain several thousand people by 2011, when the Defense Department moves its newly created Defense Media Agency and other organizations there.
BRAC 2005 also will result in the realignment and expansion of Fort Lee, Fort Belvoir and Fort Eustis, Va.; Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Sill, Okla. Redstone Arsenal, Ala., home of the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command, will gain one of the Army's largest commands, the Army Materiel Command.
The reserve component is also experiencing major changes.
"Under the military construction program for the reserve component 176 Reserve centers will close and 125 new joint armed forces Reserve centers will be built," Anderson said.
A Pledge to Families
With the November 2007 announcement of the Army Family Convenant--the services' pledge to provide Soldiers and their families "a quality of life that is commensurate with their service," and "a strong, supportive environment where they can thrive"--the Army is continuing to build state-of-the-art housing for Soldiers and their families that's comparable to the housing in modern suburbia, Bohannon said.
Military construction today encompasses encompasses some 87,000 on-post family housing units at 45 installations in the United States, said Ivan Bolden, a spokesman for the assistant chief of staff for installation management's director of Army privatized housing.
Residential Communities Initiative projects for 2008 and 2009 are under way at West Point, N.Y.; Fort Jackson, S.C.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Wainwright and Fort Greely, Alaska; Fort Huachuca and Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.; and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., he said.
The RCI allows the Army--which had a $7 billion family housing backlog in 1996--to use appropriated funds and the value of the Army's assets to obtain private-sector capital and expertise for the management, renovation, construction, maintenance and operation of military family housing, Bolden said.
Army Hawaii Family Housing LLC is the largest RCI project ever awarded by the Army, said Joseph Bonfiglio, a USACE spokesman in Hawaii. Upon completion, it will be among the world's largest solar-powered communities. The project includes the development, design, construction, renovation and property management of 7,894 homes across seven installations on Oahu.
While commercial contractors build the Army's facilities, gaining installations and organizations are involved in the process from start to finish, with the USACE being the overall quality-assurance experts, Bohannon added.
Among the newest developments in Army medicine is the Army Medical Action Plan, which will result in construction of "warrior-in-transition campuses," Temple said. Those will include barracks, administration centers and family assistance centers at locations where the need is the greatest.
Work has begun on seven of the campuses, he said. Seventeen additional projects are to begin in 2008, with all of the campuses to be completed by 2010.
Additionally, in November 2007 officials at Fort Belvoir broke ground for construction of the six-story, $747 million, 1.2-million-square-foot Belvoir Community Hospital, which will replace the existing 1950s-era DeWitt Army Community Hospital on that post.
And Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., continues its preparations to shut down as planners work to integrate and standardize medical care by 2011 for the joint services at what's to become Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, at the site of Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, said Joint Task Force National Capital Region-Medical spokesman Col. Scott Wardell.
In the future, WRAMC patients will receive care at the hospital in Bethesda and at Fort Belvoir, added Col. J. Mark Webb, a spokesman for Army Medical Department transformation in the Office of the Surgeon General.
The new Fort Belvoir hospital "represents our continuing commitment to provide the highest-quality, compassionate care to military service members, veterans and their families," said Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, commander of U.S. Army Medical Command.
A $2 billion construction project is also going on at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, said Col. Suzanne Cuda, program manager for construction at the hospital.
Officials said the Army won't be finished building when the timelines run out for BRAC 2005-related construction, re-stationing the force and increasing the strength of the Army. There'll be a construction program well into the future, they said.
The Army's Builders
THE Army's "builders" include Installation Management Command managers Armywide, who identify needs at their respective posts; personnel in the office of the Army's assistant chief of staff for installation management, who review, prioritize and approve the facilities, standards and criteria; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the Army's agent for developing, acquiring and managing facility designs and construction contracts; and the countless contractors and subcontractors who design and build the structures.
Then it's the commands--such as the U.S. Army Medical Command and the Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command--and Department of Defense agencies like the DOD Education Activity, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and others that are also important stakeholders in developing and building quality facilities for Soldiers and their families, said Maj. Gen. Merdith Temple, the USACE's director of military programs.
Before construction can begin, representatives of the Army Environmental Center must conduct an environmental site survey and assessment to ensure Environmental Protection Agency and host-nation laws are adhered to, said Ned Christensen, a spokesman for the Installation Management Command.--Heike Hasenauer
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|Date:||Mar 1, 2008|
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