Fort Gordon garrison commander discusses wave of construction projects
By MEG MIRSHAK | The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle | Published: June 7, 2015
Fort Gordon has a surge of construction activity totaling $158 million for nearly four dozen renovations, new buildings or other projects underway to modernize living facilities and prepare for new cyber-related missions, according to Army officials.
Col. Sam Anderson, the garrison commander, said Fort Gordon is in a unique position among military installations to have such a large number of construction projects not connected to the Army’s Base Realignment and Closure Process.
“If you went back five years ago or to the second round of BRAC in 2005, locations like Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Fort Belvoir, installations that were the recipients of BRAC, they had a lot of projects going on,” Anderson said.
New and renovated barracks have crews working on the north and south sides of Chamberlain Avenue, the installation’s main thoroughfare. The projects are being completed in phases that continue until at least 2019, Anderson said in an interview with The Augusta Chronicle.
The second phase of a new Advanced Individual Training complex with barracks, a dining facility and company and battalion headquarters began recently on Chamberlain Avenue west of Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center. The first phase was completed about three years ago, and phase two will finish in October 2016 at the earliest, Anderson said.
The final phase of the $200 million AIT complex, which is being built on the site of a former running track and temporary barracks, will start in 2019, he said.
“At the completion of this project, you’ll have 1,500-bed barracks with four company headquarters, a battalion headquarters and a dining facility,” Anderson said.
Of the installation’s 19 existing barracks for training service members, three are receiving extensive renovations as part of a multi-phase “training barracks upgrade program” that began in 2007. Fourteen have been completed and the final two barracks are scheduled for renovations next year, Anderson said.
“It’s a renovation that’s a complete gutting of the facility. The four walls and the foundation are all that’s left,” he said. “It turns into a new, modern facility.”
Training barracks renovations total $330 million, funds that come from yearly appropriations to Army installations depending on renovation needs.
The AIT complex was a military construction project that needed congressional approval and funding appropriation, Anderson said.
The training barracks upgrade program also includes renovations for numerous company, battalion and brigade headquarters, three dining facilities and recreational areas. The new barracks have more living space per soldier, Anderson said.
“It’s a complete transformation of the training support and living support on the installation,” he said.
Other military installations have stopped building barracks because of troop reductions, but Fort Gordon expects it will have a constant number of soldiers training at the installation to live in barracks, Anderson said.
Barrack renovations were needed prior to growth associated with relocation of the Army Cyber Command headquarters and other missions to Fort Gordon, he said. Other renovation projects in various areas are supporting that growth.
The 116th Military Intelligence Brigade, a new Army unit (previously named the Aerial Intelligence Brigade), has modified a building previously used for National Security Agency operations, he said.
For the 7th Cyber Protection Brigade, several buildings across the installation are being renovated to create classified space for their mission, Anderson said. Recently purchased temporary buildings are also being used.
Eventually, cyber protection teams that comprise the brigade will consolidate into a two-phase, $90 million addition to the John Whitelaw Building, which also houses National Security Agency-Georgia.
“We’re talking 2020 before that’s done. We had to have about a five-year plan to house the cyber protection teams,” Anderson said. “We did that about as inexpensively as could be done by repurposing existing classified workspace.”
Another $15 million addition to the Whitelaw Building is nearing completion, Anderson said. It is not part of Army Cyber Command operations, he said.
“The NSA facility, when they built it, they realized they didn’t have enough space,” Anderson said. “So they built an additional wedge onto the existing campus.”
Other construction work includes phase three of renovations to double the size of the Post Exchange, interior and exterior upgrades to Balfour Beatty housing units and improvements to two privatized hotels that are being rebranded as Holiday Inn Express.