FORT LEE (Jan. 15, 2009) — Fort Lee has checked off the first and arguably most significant project of its massive $1.7 billion Base Realignment and Closure plan.
The Sustainment Center of Excellence Headquarters building was completed in late December 2008 after 18 months of construction.
It was finished on time, at budget and is the first of more than 30 new structures to be built at Fort Lee under the 2005 BRAC implementation plan.
A celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Jan. 9 on the first floor of the facility to mark its completion.
The gala event attracted various media and was attended by several hundred people to include The Honorable Timothy M. Kaine, governor of Virginia, and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s commanding general.
Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee commanding general, hosted the ceremony. He said the four-story, 218,579-square-foot facility with its energy-efficient blue windows is only the physical embodiment of the SCoE. But what goes on inside the building and at the various subordinate elements under its command umbrella is what’s most important.
“The SCoE creates a combat service support training center unlike any before,” said Chambers, “and will provide the best possible training to the sustainers of our Army and all of our sister services.”
SCoE will house CASCOM, a multi-functional organization overseeing all combat developments and training in logistics, human resources and finance for the Army. A consolidation of logistics centers and schools from several installations will occur within the next couple of years. This will include the U.S. Army Transportation Center and School from Fort Eustis; the U.S. Army Ordnance Mechanical Maintenance School from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; and the U.S. Army Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School from Redstone Arsenal, Ala. These schools will join the U.S. Army Quartermaster Center and School and the U.S. Army Logistics Management College, both already located on Fort Lee.
One other institution integral to CASCOM, the U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute, located at Fort Jackson, S.C., will remain at that location.
During the ceremony, 16 dignitaries stood side-by-side for the ribbon-cutting. They included Lt. Gen. Mitchell H. Stevenson, deputy chief of staff for logistics, Army G-4 and former CASCOM commander; the school commanding generals; and 17-year-old Pfc. Maria Morgenstern, one of the post’s youngest future sustainers.
Dempsey, who also participated in the ribbon-cutting, was one of the guest speakers for the event. Less than two months into his position as TRADOC commander, he was quick to note the building’s completion should be rightfully marked by symbolic celebration, but it should be more “… about celebrating the contributions made by Soldiers, Civilians, contractors and our supporting Families to the effort of doing many things for our Army and our nation ….”
At one point during his speech, Dempsey surveyed the audience and noted the many business suits amongst those in uniform. He went on to make the case that projects such as the new headquarters building and other efforts such as Army Transformation can only be realized through the collaborative efforts of the various stakeholders.
“It’s a very challenging task that can only be accomplished if we partner with our communities and our nation …,” he said.
Kaine, who became governor about a year after the 2005 implementation plan, served as mayor of Richmond and as a member of a state BRAC panel as a lieutenant governor. He congratulated the post leadership in completing the SCoE, touted the state’s historic connection to the military and emphasized the importance of Fort Lee to the region.
“I really came to see the tremendous economic power of Fort Lee in this community, stretching very, very far from north of Richmond to significantly south all the way to the border,” he said. “This is an economic powerhouse for the region … and the success of this institution is an integral part of anything we do as a region.”
The SCoE has been called the “lifeblood of Army logistics,” as it transforms into the third largest training installation in the Army, surpassed only by Fort Jackson, S.C., and Fort Benning, Ga.
It will annually bring to Fort Lee thousands of military and civilian personnel to attend the various logistics schools. In the end, 185 different courses will be taught here and no combat service support school will teach more military occupational specialties.
The SCoE will become the command center for all of the instruction that takes place at Fort Lee. It will house the headquarters elements of each of the schools, with the exception of ALMC.
ALMC, which will become the Logistics University, is currently in the midst of large-scale construction on the other side of post. It will house the noncommissioned officer academies of each school and focus on multi-functional logistics instruction, especially for officers.
Other projects under construction at Fort Lee include the Soldier Support Center, which will handle student personnel and administrative requirements and the Ordnance Center and School. That institution is currently being carved out of a former wooded area in the north section of the post. It will be comprised of 27 new buildings to include a small post exchange, fitness center, medical and dental clinic and one of the Army’s largest dining facilities.