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Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II




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The Progress-Index Fort Lee Operation Expansion II was created by the staff of The Progress-Index. This publication may not be reproduced, in full or part, without the express written consent of Times-Shamrock Communications and The Progress-Index. Copyright 2010 Times-Shamrock Communications, all rights reserved. Phone (804) 732-3456, Fax (804) 861-9452 Publisher - Cindy Morgan Editor - Brian J. Couturier Advertising Director - Mike Gochenour Pre-press Manager - Travis Wolfrey Staff Writers - F.M. Wiggins • Michael Buettner Photographers - Patrick Kane • Sabrina Shaeffer Graphic Artists - Marc Calindas • Jennifer Rouse • Sara McGhee Account Executives - Tracey Hensley • Wendy Bond Kenny Magee • Sheree Reid Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II


OVERVIEW In 2005 Fort Lee won out in the Base Realignment and Closure decisions. Over the past five years, the area has physically been altered since then — including new hotels and apartment complexes outside the post’s fence. Inside the post, the Army base has nearly doubled in size with massive new buildings sprouting up since the decision. Shortly after the decision was announced, it was estimated that the population of Fort Lee would increase by 119 percent and the annual economic impact of the post would double — to $1.6 billion. As a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005, Fort Lee is already in the process of gaining the Ordnance Center and Schools from Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland; the Munitions, Electronics and Maintenance Center from Redstone Arsenal in Alabama; the Defense Contract Management Agency from Alexandria; the Transportation School from Fort 6

Eustis in Newport News; and the Air Force Transportation Training Center and Air Force Culinary Training Center from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. The permanent party personnel at Fort Lee will increase by approximately 4,000 when the BRAC growth completes late next year. But the

people at Fort Lee and the final population next year is expected to be about 45,000 people. Some of the construction highlights that have been completed include: the Army Logistics University, Sustainment Center of Excellence headquarters building — now known as Mifflin Hall, the Soldier Support Center,

New Army barracks are under construction at a rapid rate to accomodate numerous AIT students who will train at Fort Lee.

Army base is also growing in the number of civilians, military students and families. Already the post has grown by approximately 20,304 people since 2005 when the BRAC decision was first announced. Currently, there are about a 40,900

Tactical Support Equipment Department, one of the Army’s largest dining facilities and barracks for incoming soldiers. Construction is still taking place across post, including the new Ordnance Campus and where the Transportation Center

and School will soon relocate to. Construction of a new 1,000-room military hotel is expected to start anytime now. In the past year a lot of new buildings have opened on post, and more are set to open between now and September 2011. In some cases buildings are even finding new uses in the preparation for the final growth spurt at Fort Lee through the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision. “This is a major milestone for us,” Fort Lee Garrison Commander, Col. Michael Morrow said. “Twenty different organizations from across post, in 10 different buildings will be moving here.” Among the new buildings that have opened on post are the Army Logistics University. At the university soldiers are trained to become leaders of their field in ordnance, transportation and quartermaster skills. The building was completed in 22 months at a total cost of about $136 million. The education building is the largest building on post and conFort Lee: Operation Expansion II

tains 348,511 square feet of space, 92 classrooms and has the ability to train 40,000 students each year. The building also incorporated green technology and practices. About 83 percent of the construction waste was recycled and the building was designed to meet Leadership in Environmental Design, silver standards. The green building rating system is designed to promote design and construction practices that reduce negative environmental impacts. By July 2011, it will be supporting the full capacity of 2,300 soldiers. The university also saw the addition of the Non-

Commissioned Officers Academy from elsewhere on Fort Lee. The building which used to house the NCO Academy is being renovated to house the Army Transportation Center Schools and the Air Force and Navy

headquarters administrative office area. The building will provide administrative space for 50 Army personnel and also use space for Command and Control functions for both Air Force and Navy culinary students and the

Air Force Transportation Management Schools. The post is literally being transformed as it doubles the amount of building square footage by September 2011. The logistics university opened July of last year along with four other major BRAC-related projects. The five major projects that opened in 2009 included the Sustainment Center of Excellence — now known as Mifflin Hall, Army Logistics University, the Dining Facility on the Ordnance Campus, Tactical Support Equipment Department and the Soldier Support Center — additionally several new barracks buildings

Mifflin Hall

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II


OVERVIEW opened on the Ordnance Campus. The Tactical Support Equipment Department has become one of the busiest buildings on post. Training in the building is nearly constant with soldiers training in two shifts. Construction on the Tactical Support Equipment Department began two years ago in November 2007. In that time the more than 270,000 square foot building has risen out of the ground enclosing about 6 1/2 acres of learning space. There are 25 classrooms where 32 soldiers can learn from state of the art equipment. In the larger part of the building there are 22 instructional bays, where soldiers can gain hands on experience in repairing support equipment ranging from generators, to smoke machines, to water pumps and air conditioners. In total, the building cost about $50 million to build and contains about $13 million in equipment. The dining facility on the Ordnance Campus works to feed those soldiers three meals, each and every day. Currently there are about 600 soldiers on the campus, 8

but when the base is fully built out, the dining facility will still be able to handle the number of soldiers. The facility, which can feed more than 3,500 soldiers in 90 minutes, is among the largest in the Army and features some of the latest technology.

Fort Lee for the first time and the place they visit before being transferred to any other post. Last year’s round of BRACrelated openings and the first major BRAC project to open was the SCOE Headquarters building. Then Gov. Timothy M. Kaine came to Fort Lee for

Aerial view of the completed SCOE

The Soldier Support Center houses the Human Resources Directorate, Army Community Service, Defense Military Pay office, Transportation, housing, vehicle registration, medical and dental activity and post retention office. The building was dedicated in the memory of Dwight Alan Faughn. It is the first place soldiers report to when arriving on

the opening of the SCOE. The structure represents a $49-million investment and was recently rededicated as Mifflin Hall. In the coming year though, even more projects are set to open including a new dining facility for the Air Force and Navy personnel that will be training on post, dorms for those airmen and sailors, the Army’s Transportation Center

and School is still underway. Three more barracks buildings are still under construction on the ordnance campus and more buildings are underway for students to learn the intricacies of repairing and maintaining the Army’s equipment including tracked vehicles, air conditioners and weapons. The contract has been awarded, the ground is being cleared, and a brand-new 1,000-room military hotel is set to rise seven stories above the ground. The Korte Co. of St. Louis, Mo., and Highland, Ill., was awarded the contract in June to build the long-planned Army Lodging facility on a 26-acre parcel between Mahone Avenue and A Avenue just behind the Military Entrance Processing Station. The site has been vacant for a number of years after it was cleared of a sprawling complex of wooden World War II-era “temporary” buildings that originally housed a hospital. Fort Lee and officials of the Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command (FMWRC) have said the Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

roughly $120 million lodging facility is needed to help house the increased number of students who will be coming to the base because of its expanded training role under the Base Realignment and Closure process. The existing decades-old Army Lodging facility here has about 560 rooms, many of which are unusable on any given day because of maintenance problems. Construction of the new lodging facility originally was expected to start before the end of last year but was delayed after controversy

erupted when the project was formally unveiled last August. Some business owners and community leaders complained that they

was looking to the private sector to help lodge its expanded transient population. Others were taken aback by the size of the project and worried that

Artist rendition of the hotel on the grounds of Ft. Lee

were not given timely information about the plan and had been led to believe that the Army

it would hurt the local economy. A group of business people formed an al-

liance, known as the Hospitality Coalition, and sought to persuade the Army to delay the project and perform a more detailed study of its potential economic impact. The coalition eventually grew to include some 180 members. Officials at Fort Lee and FMWRC contended that the hotel, which has been on the drawing board since 2003, is essential to the post’s mission to train soldiers. Last year, Fort Lee Garrison Commander Col. Michael G. Morrow told a local business group that military guidelines

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OVERVIEW require the the base to house 80 percent of its students on post. Even with the construction of the lodging facility, Fort Lee will fall short of that goal. “Up to now we’ve had a significant deficit in that capability,” Morrow said. “That’s why we’re doing things like the Army Lodging facility. We’re trying to get that capability on post in terms of what the Army requires us to have.” Morrow said that even after the hotel is built, about 20 percent of Fort Lee’s temporary duty and other transient personnel will still need off-post lodging, which previous Army estimates have indicated will translate into an average of more than 700 rooms daily. In addition, the Army argued that the regional economy would benefit from the roughly $120 million to be spent on construction and the hir10

ing of about 275 permanent employees for the hotel, as well as increased travel to the area by people who are not eligible to stay in Army lodging. The hotel will pay about

significant and will not adversely affect the quality of the environment.” In a statement announcing the signing of the FONSI, the Army said it had taken the economic

of Representatives and Senate also gave their OK to the plan, which got the final go-ahead in May from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. FMWRC, which operates

Tom Stiles/SkyShots Photography

This aerial photo of Fort Lee was taken Oct. 9. 2009.

$6.4 million in annual wages and will buy about $2.1 million in goods and services, much of it locally, officials have said. Ultimately, Morrow signed a “Finding of No Significant Impact,” or FONSI, certifying that the Army’s environmental assessment showed that the facility’s effects “are not

questions into account. “Although concern was raised over the economic impacts of constructing the lodging facility, the (environmental assessment) determined that the economic impacts were not significant,” it said. In addition, two subcommittees of the U.S. House

Army Lodging facilities on bases around the world, had awarded Korte a contract last year to design the hotel but could not put the construction contract up for bids until the FONSI was signed and the Defense Department gave its formal OK.

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

ORDNANCE The Army Ordnance School is moving to Fort Lee as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision. Since that time work has progressed at a steady pace on the campus, which has changed the landscape of the Tri-Cities area. The majority of the Ordnance campus has taken shape on land between Temple Avenue and State Route 36 across from the main post. Since 2005 trees have fallen, and buildings —

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

some as big as six acres — have sprouted up on the land. The total cost of the proj-

ect is over $700 million, including about $45 million in infrastructure — the most visible piece is

Soldiers in front of the Ordnance School

a bridge which connects the ordnance campus to the main post. Several other bridges exist on the campus to allow vehicular traffic to flow on to the Ordnance Campus and for soldiers to walk between their barracks, and the main part of the campus where the dining facility and learning structures are. The campus includes buildings dedicated to tracked vehicle repairs, equipment repairs for every major piece of


ORDNANCE it’s located between the the lines making their sefacilities where they will lections that varied from learn and the barracks steak and onions to two where they sleep. Each hot dogs. day, the soldiers report to Soldiers have described the facility to have three both the facility and the meals — breakfast, lunch food that it offers as comand dinner. fortable. At the opening Fort “When they leave here, Lee Garrison Commander soldiers leave nourished, Col. Michael Morrow said re-energized and ulticompared to the facilities mately ready to protect he ate in when he first and defend this great nation,” Gully said. Route 36 flyover bridge between Fort Lee and the Ordnance joined the Army more Campus The 322-foot bridge cost $4.5 million. It includes than 20 years ago, the Morrow said at the time two traffic lanes and an eight foot wide pedestrian crossing. choices and amenities are that the occasion was especially important equipment the Army has can feed more than 3,500 outstanding. “We provide them with a because it’s the first — of and learning some of the soldiers in 90 minutes, is wealth of choices here,” many — ribbon cuttings basics of explosive ordamong the largest in the Morrow said. “Everything on the ordnance campus. nance disposal. Army and features some to keep them nourished “We’re going to continue As the campus continof the latest technology. and we also provide some with many more things ues to grow it is becomThe facility has many more fun foods too like like this,” Morrow said. ing one of the centers of unique features as well hot dogs and hamburgers Morrow said that the attention for construcincluding being the only and french fries.” dining facility represents tion. The sheer size of the such facility in the Army Several hours after the the garrison or post’s school is amazing and that is two levels. The total ribbon cutting ceremony, continuing commitment it will be home to more square footage of the soldiers moved through to supporting soldiers than 4,500 instructors and building is 68,713 square students daily by Septem- feet. ber of next year. “It’s often said that an Army moves on its stomach,” said Col. Ed Gully, DINING D INING senior Base Realignment and Closure engineer at Throughout the entire the opening of the buildArmy there is no dining ing in October of last year. facility larger than the “With Fort Lee’s mission, one located at Fort Lee on the Ordnance Campus. here, the Army trains on The Army’s largest dining its stomach.” Gully said that the locafacility officially opened tion of the dining facility on Fort Lee last year. on the campus is also The Sgt. Maj. Roy L. MorGrand opening for the new dining facility on the ordnance row Dining Facility, which convenient for soldiers — campus of Fort Lee


Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

through sustainment, preparation, resetting and transformation. Morrow explained that through sustainment, soldiers are strengthened; construction going on across post is in preparation for more soldiers that are coming by the end of 2011; when a deployed unit returns home, their equipment is reset and brought back to a ready status; and that through transformation the Army continues to evolve, including infrastructure for soldiers. Morrow said that like everything else around it, the dining facility was nothing more than a patch of dirt two years ago. “From 2005 to 2011, we will have doubled the size of Fort Lee and doubled the square footage of buildings,” Morrow said.

MUNITIONS M UNIT TIO ONS The men and women that handle the risky job of disposing of explosive devices for the Army will be training on Fort Lee and A.P. Hill starting in 2011. “It takes a special kind of man or woman to become an EOD (Explosives Ordinance Disposal) technician,” said Col. Howard Merritt, commander of the 59th Ordnance Brigade that trains EOD soldiers. “This is one of the few jobs in the Army that a soldier must volunteer for. These soldiers put their lives on the line every time they render safe an improvised explosive device.” Over the next year, construction will begin at A.P. Hill on state-of-the-art facilities that will be used to train more than 2,000


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Lt. Col. Sydney Smith, commander of the 244th Quartermaster Battalion, serves up stuffing during a Thanksgiving meal at the Sgt. Maj. Roy L. Morrow Dining Facility at Fort Lee. Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II


ORDNANCE EOD soldiers annually. Lt. Col. Greg Hicks, training department director, said that the demand for EOD soldiers has doubled in recent years to meet the demands due to the conflicts for Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of operation. Five EOD courses will move to Virginia from their current locations: the EOD Senior Leader and EOD Phase 1 course will move to Fort Lee. The two-week senior leader course trains experienced noncommissioned officers in EOD tactics and techniques. The eightweek EOD Phase 1 course trains soldiers in basic EOD skills and prepares them for more advanced training. That course, currently at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida will remain at its present home. Two days of the Phase 1 course will focus on demolition training and will be conducted at Fort A.P. Hill. Fort A.P. Hill will also be the home of the eight-week Advanced Leader Course, the one-week Tactical Post Blast course and the twoweek Global Antiterrorism and Operational Readiness course. The job of EOD soldiers last year gained a bit of 14

interest after “The Hurt Locker” a crtically-acclaimed film was released. The film focuses on the exploits of an Army bomb squad in Iraq. Hicks said that there was already interest in the volunteer EOD job, but that the film has helped to increase awareness of the job — if not in an overly dramatized way.

knowledged that EOD soldiers do operate on a small unit level — though not quite as portrayed in the movie. He added that EOD soldiers do think on their feet and in the absence of orders taking a highly academic approach with hands on methods to problem solving, sometimes thinking outside the box.

Mast. Sgt. Jeffrey Grimes talks about the instructional spaces in the new Tactical Support Equipment Department on Fort Lee.

“If you talk to EOD soldiers, they will tell you that the technical aspects are not what you would do,” Hicks said. “It’s definitely not a training movie.” However, certain aspects were at least somewhat true to life. Merritt ac-

TACTICAL T ACTICAL Day-in and day-out soldiers are hard at work training inside one of the most massive new buildings on Fort Lee. Rozier Hall, home of the Tactical Support Equipment De-

partment is bigger than some Wal-Mart stores at 270,000 square feet. That’s a total of 6 1/2 acres of learning space inside, under one roof. Construction on the Tactical Support Equipment Department began in November 2007. It officially opened two years later to much fanfare at a ribbon cutting ceremony highlighting the life of its namesake, Maj. Gen. Jackson Rozier — commandant of the Army Ordnance Center and School from 1981 to 1983 and the Provisional Chief of Ordnance from October to November 1983. Inside the building there are 25 classrooms in each of which 32 soldiers can learn their job on state-of-the-art equipment. The larger part of the building contains 22 instructional bays where soldiers can gain valuable hands on experience in repairing support equipment ranging from generators to smoke machines to air conditioners. The total cost on construction was $50 million but another nearly $13 million went into equipping the building with the tools to train soldiers. The building on Fort Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

Lee is the second official Rozier Hall. The first was on Aberdeen Proving Ground. “It’s far better than I ever imagined,” Lt. Gen. Mitchell Stevenson, the former Combined Arms Support Command, Commanding General and current Army G-4, said at the opening of the building in November 2009. Stevenson said that the importance of such a facility is that it serves as the training ground for young soldiers who will soon find themselves in harms way. “When this campus is complete, it will be the third largest

training installation in the Army,” said Stevenson. “The most important reason for this event today is what goes on inside this

building. That’s the real reason for the dedication.” The building, while large, also took advantage

A Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facility on Fort Lee.

of starting anew. At Aberdeen Proving Ground a total of eight buildings served the functions that Rozier Hall on Fort Lee does. Additionally, the buildings in some cases were older, World War II era buildings. The new Rozier Hall on Fort Lee is one of the newest and most advanced in the Army. At the building’s dedication Joyce Rozier, the widow of Jackson Rozier, said that it was wonderful to see the building named after her late husband. “He enjoyed the military very much,” Joyce Rozier said. “He was a dynamic, vivacious and enthusiastic man.”

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TRANSPORTATION The majority of the Army’s Transportation Center and School is in the process of moving to Fort Lee from nearby Fort Eustis. In addition to the Army Transportation Center and School, the Air Force Transportation Management School is moving to Fort Lee. The Army Transportation School has been at Fort Eustis since the 1940s. The post will continue to train soldiers in maritime and railroad duties and the Army

Transportation Museum is staying put, but everything else is moving to

Fort Lee. In 2009, the 757th Transportation Battalion,

an Army reserve unit, built a 320 foot rail spur in preparation for the school to make its way to Fort Lee. Sgt. 1st Class David J. McLaughlin with the reserve unit said that because there is no active duty rail component in the Army, the reserve unit out of Milwaukee, Wis. — the only railroad unit in the country — got the call to come build the track. McLaughlin A portion of railroad track, complete with cargo cars, will be explained that building the track was part of the used by AIT students for loading and unloading training.

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Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

unit’s annually required two-week Extended Combat Training. The nine individuals who came to build the track had to first make the site ready by clearing some trees in order to make maneuvering long, heavy pieces of rail easier. The rail used on the project was recycled in part due to the cost of the steel. “Each of these rails weighs about 3,900 pounds,” McLaughlin said. In addition to moving the rails the soldiers had to prepare the rail bed by making it ready for drainage with ballast and installing hard composite rubber railroad ties. McLaughlin said the composite ties weigh

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

more than their wood counterparts and won’t rot. One of the disadvantages though is that the material is hard to drive a railroad spike into. “We had to predrill each of the holes.” In January of this year four railcars were loaded by crane onto the spur. Two concrete ramps — one at each end of the spur — will allow students to practice driving both tracked vehicles and wheeled vehicles onto a railroad car, and unloading them from the rail cars. The fuselage of an Air Force C-130E is also being incorporated into the Army Transporation School. In April the huge

plane’s fuselage was taken by truck from Dinwiddie County Airport to Fort Lee. The Air Force brought the plane to Dinwiddie in April 2009. The C-130 and a C-17 are two huge new tools for Fort Lee and the Army Transportation Center and School that’s moving to post over the next year. The plane will provide soldiers with a real-world aircraft to train on. Currently, soldiers train on a wooden mock-up of a C-130. “It’s the same one that I used when I first joined the Army 28 years ago. We’re using the same, sub-standard training devices. This is going to be a great capability for

us,” said Col. Tod Mellman, chief BRAC officer with the Army Transportation School during the plane’s move onto post.

BIG B IG Learning from a book is one thing, but learning hands on requires the right tools. To teach soldiers how to repair the Army’s vehicles or prepare cargo for transport requires some big hands on equipment including planes like the C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster. It also requires the backbone of the Army’s armored force — the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank. Since the beginning of


TRANSPORTATION July when training will nisms and systems of tank turrets, tank weapons, move into full swing. The vehicles will reprefighting vehicles, towed sent the range of vehicles and self propelled artilthat are in the Army. lery, small arms and other “It’s an interesting time to infantry weapons. Elsewhere on post a be in the Army,” Gordon C-130, and C-17 sit on a said. concrete pad, ready and He said that the training for soldiers learning waiting for soldiers to how to repair the vehicles train on load operations. They’ll also be used by systems is moving from the Air Force Transportaolder buildings at Aberdeen Proving Ground to tion Management School which is moving to Fort Seven brand new M1A1 Abrams tanks arrived on Fort Lee for what is quickly becoming the Ordnance Campus Lee. Those are also lothe logistical “mecca” of cated near four railcars the Army — Fort Lee. “These are training aids, this year many of these that were put onto a they allow soldiers to get Harden said that in July big military items have purpose built rail spur when the training for hands-on training, realisarrived on post. 91K — Armament Repair- where soldiers will learn As the Ordnance Corps tic training.” how to load vehicles onto ers — comes to Fort Lee, Sgt. 1st Class Nawab makes its move to Fort Lee, the armor has arrived Harden said the realism in there will be about 250 to rail cars. The rail spur was 300 students and about a constructed in 2009. The training is important. as training aids. In middozen additional instruc- two planes arrived in the May the first of the armor “We want to get the solarea last year, though diers’ skills up so that they tors on post. started to arrive on post the C-130 was not transArmament Repairer is can put their skills to use when an M1A1 Abrams ported to the post from primarily responsible for once they get into their and an M2A3 Bradley supervising and perform- Dinwiddie County Airport unit,” Harden said. Fighting Vehicle arrived until earlier this year. ing maintenance and One of the ways that by truck to Fort Lee. repairs on the mechasoldiers may train on the By mid-June another equipment, according to seven tanks had rolled Gordon, is through the onto post — this time by introduction of a fault in rail car. the system. He said that When those first vehiinstructors may introduce cles arrived in May, Chief Warrant Officer Fitzalbert a fault into the vehicles systems and the soldiers Gordon said that the will have to find the fault vehicles and other aids including turrets from and determine the fix for various vehicles represent the vehicle. A C-17, at left, and C-130 cargo planes peek over trees. Harden said that at a series of shipments. They will be used by AIT students to practice loading and unloading cargo. least 20 vehicles will be “It’s all training equipcoming to Fort Lee before ment,” Gordon said. 18

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

QUARTERMASTER Next year there were will be about 2,500 more Advanced Individual Training students attending the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence at Fort Lee. They will represent all branches of the military with the exception of the Coast Guard — though Coast Guards members will still train at the school in the Advanced Culinary Training section. The school is growing as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure decision of 2005.

sion at the Joint Culinary Center for Excellence. In Fiscal Year 2011 the school is expected to have more than 7,000 AIT students enter its doors. About 2,500 of that is through growth - with an estimated 1,300 students coming from the Air Force and 1,200 from the Navy. The massive influx of students may not have happened yet, but the work to prepare for them is well underway. An addition of more than 10,000 square feet is being added onto the current Joint Culinary

The Joint Culinary Center of Excellence is undergoing an expansion to accomodate more students from more branches of the armed services at Fort Lee.

“We’ll be growing in January,” said Chief Warrant Officer Russell Campbell, chief for the Advanced Food Service Training diviFort Lee: Operation Expansion II

Center of Excellence. “What we have is the Joint Culinary Center for Excellence, this is where we train entry level soldiers, 19

QUARTERMASTER joint front with the other branches. It too will be changing as a result of BRAC. Starting next year

Campbell said that the course will be five weeks instead of the current three weeks and four days.

The Joint Culinary Center of Excellence

sailors, airmen and Marines in basic cooking,” said Brig. Gen. Jesse R. Cross, Sustainment Center of Excellence, Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee commanding general. “This is where they will receive their professional military education.” But Cross said that the service members who come to the school will gain something else as well; the knowledge and

ideas to compete in the Army Culinary Arts Competition. “It’s almost like Iron Chef,” Cross said of the competition. “It’s not just slinging corned beef hash.” Cross said that the soldiers also have the opportunity to come back for the Advanced Course where they can learn to prepare meals like in a 5-star restaurant. Campbell said that program has for years been a

Students in the Advanced Culinary Skills Training Course presented their end of course meal

Sgt. Jermiah Swatzke prepares sweet potato chips. 20

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

DCA In more than 250 stores around the globe, soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen get a benefit that doesn’t come with their pay — they have the option of shopping at a commissary. The grocery and supply store system has been around for more than a century, but it has also constantly been changing. Thomas Milks, acting director and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

Commissary Agency, said the commissary is one of the most important non-

pay benefits for soldiers and other service members. Shoppers save an

average of about 31 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings worth more than $4,400 annually for a family of four, according Milks. Milks said the commissaries are even more important for those stationed overseas. “They offer service members a taste of home,” he said. As a scenario he said a service member may be stationed in Germany or Japan, far from home — The Defense Commissary Agency, which serves as grocer to the local grocery stores the military, is now consolidated at Fort Lee.


DCA carry few if any products packaged in English. Even those products that are familiar such as sodas may be formulated dif-

ferently. “But at the commissary they can find the name brands and the products that they’re familiar with,” Milks said. “And they can also rest assured that the food is safe.” All foods that are sold in commissaries must first be inspected by Military Veterinarians. Additionally, The Fort Lee Commissary, on the same processing post as the Defense Commissary Agency, facilities must is a testing ground for many ideas. undergo in-


spections as well. The Defense Commissary Agency has an annual sales figure of close to $6 billion — that’s after savings are passed on directly to their consumers. The agency operates on a budget of about $1 billion. That figure is paid for by taxpayers. “We sell the food at cost, with a 5 percent surcharge,” Milks said. The surcharge goes to building new commissaries or renovating existing ones. While the agency isn’t

growing through BRAC — it is consolidating. Earlier this year, a $21 million addition was added to the existing DeCA headquarters. Parts of the headquarters will be renovated over the next year as the 200 remaining employees currently located off post move into the DeCA headquarters. “We’ll be done by September of next year,” Milks said. When complete about 900 employees of DeCA will be located on post.

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

BEYOND BRAC As the Army base grows there’s growth not only related to the primary mission of the military installation — but of the families that support the soldiers. It’s only natural that some of the growth on post goes toward supporting families. Some of that growth includes new Child Development Centers, a revamped theater and a new chapel. These projects are for the most part are Army funded and not a direct

Base Realignment and Closure project, according of to John Jo o Royster, oys y te , Chief C e o

Master Planning with the BRAC Office. Because ecause e Fort o t Lee ee iss a

growing installation under the 2005 BRAC decision the post has been in a state of growth since that decision was made. By 2011 all BRAC projects will be completed — but that doesn’t mean the post will stop growing. Royster said that there are already several projects under way that are not BRAC funded projects on post. Among those are two Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facility A new Child Development Center is under construction in the buildings. “We have had a shortfall of those,” Royster family housing section of Fort Lee.

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BEYOND BRAC said. The Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facilities are where military vehicles are repaired and maintained. Additionally there are two, 600-person, fivestory barracks buildings being constructed for the 262nd Quartermaster Battalion that trains Petroleum and Water soldiers. In addition to those barracks, which will take between one year and 18-months to complete, two new Company Operation Facilities, a new Battalion Headquarters and dining facility are planned. “That’s all to overcome a deficit of [Advanced Individual Training] barracks space,” Royster said. He added that the planned Dining Facility or DFAC should become the largest in the Army — superseding the what is now the largest Dining Facility, which just opened recently on Fort Lee at the Ordnance Campus. But all of those improvements address the military mission of Fort Lee. There are other improvements that deal indirectly with the military mission, including two new Child Development 24

Centers — one with a 126 pupil capacity the other 135, Royster said. “We still don’t have enough,” Royster said. “There’s not enough space on post though.” Other improvements have been made by reusing older, existing buildings. The Fort Lee Reel Time Theater reopened earlier this year after

purposes — to show movies, live theater and training. “It’s the largest training facility on post,” Farmer said. The 596-seat theater building now has a state-of-the-art surroundsound system, new seats, carpet, flooring, paint on the walls and much more. “It’s a whole new facelift, it’s really brought it up to

New Army barracks are under construction at a rapid rate to accomodate numerous AIT students who will train at Fort Lee.

being closed for about a year’s worth of renovations. Since 1996 the theater building had been used for two purposes — training and plays by the Lee Playhouse. Now, according to Lee Farmer, chief of business operations for Family Morale Welfare and Recreation on post, the theater building will serve three

code,” Farmer said. The theater was the first brick building on post when it was constructed in 1948. It reopened officially April 17 with a free screening of “How To Train Your Dragon.” Each weekend the theater hopes to offer Department of Defense Identification card holders the opportunity to see three movies.

“That’s the most we’ll have at any given time is three movies,” said Millie Turner, chief of Food, Beverage and Theater for the Fort Lee Army & Air Force Exchange Service. Some weekends, she said, the theater will have only two movies, most of which will be fairly recent, with the occasional prescreening opportunity. The theater will not show movies Monday through Thursday. Farmer said that this will allow the building to continue to be used for training and for the Fort Lee Playhouse performers to get in practices for their upcoming theater season. The theater season begins Sept. 11 with the musical “Pippin.” “We’re very excited by it all,” Farmer said.

EVENTS E VENTS Each year Fort Lee plays hosts to two major competitions that draws people from around the world to the Army base. In the spring, the post hosts the Army Culinary Arts Competition. While the competition is still called the Army Culinary Arts Competition — it Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

is now inclusive of all branches of the Armed Forces. In 2009, The Army Center of Excellence, Subsistence officially became the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, further integrating chefs and culinarians from each branch. The event draws soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen from across the country and the globe. The 2010 competition was opened to the public more than ever before and visitors were able to see and taste the talent that the chefs bring to the figurative table. For the first time ever the event was open to the public for a full seven days. Each

day the public was also allowed to purchase tickets for meals served by two separate teams to sample the menus prepared by the men and women that defend the country. The second major competition generally takes

place in the fall. The Non-Commissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year Competition draws soldiers from across the globe to Fort Lee for an intense competition that challenges soldiers in everything from warrior

tasks and battle drills to the finer points of wearing the uniform of an American soldier.


The Army Women’s Museum and the Army Quartermaster Museum are already located on Fort lee, but in the very near future the post may soon be home to a third museum: the Army Ordnance Museum. The existing museums on post are already important as they tell the story of how the Army was supplied and the accomplishments and Soldier Show v. 27.0 entertained hundreds of folks at Fort challenges of females in Lee’s Reel Time Theater. The Soldier Show is a musical show the Army from the featuring a cast of servicemembers.

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BEYOND BRAC Revolutionary War to the present. Recently the Army Women’s Museum received 3,000 additional square feet of space for classroom space and display space. The opening of the addition, increases exhibit space to about 8,000 square feet. The addition took about six months to construct by the Trent Corporation and cost about $800,000. The funding for the expansion, she said, came from the Army


Women’s Museum Foundation, which raised the money privately. The Quartermaster Museum is already a bit larger — at more than 25,000

square feet — than the Army Women’s Museum and tells the story of supplying soldiers whether in the Revolutionary War or the current stories of air

The U.S. Army Women’s Museum on Fort Lee is open to the public.

dropping supplies with pinpoint accuracy to soldiers in Afghanistan. In 2009 artifacts from the Army Ordnance Museum began arriving on post as part of that facility’s move to Fort Lee. The new museum will dwarf the existing museums at Fort Lee. Most of the historic guns and tanks will be housed in a 100,000-square-foot facility that will be built on post. The museum has the potential to be a huge tourism draw to the area.

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

“The museum should be done by around September 2011,” said Dr. Joe Rainer. Rainer is the Army Ordnance Museum director. “When it will be complete is still sort of up in the air.” Rainer said that the museum annually draws about 70,000 people per year. The ordnance museum, combined with the existing Army Women’s Museum and Army Quartermaster museum, will be the largest museum complex on the East Coast outside of Washington D.C.

HOUSING As Fort Lee grows, that means that there will be

more soldiers and families coming to the post. The installation is already hard at work to make sure many of those coming will have a place to live. By March 2011 there will be 1,505 homes available on post including 1,089 for junior Non-Commissioned Officers, 277 for senior Non-Commissioned Officers and a total of 139 homes available for officers and warrant officers. A total of around $137 million has been invested in demolishing older homes on post and construction of newer homes. Fritz Brandt, with the BRAC construction office, explained that when all the construction is com-

pleted the oldest homes on post will be at Jackson Circle. Those homes are less than 15 years old. But even with the housing construction boom there still won’t be enough space to house all the soldiers assigned to Fort Lee. The homes on post are highly prized by soldiers. In December, when an open house was held to showcase what the new homes in Adams Chase, a neighborhood on post, look like — soldiers were smiling and nodding their heads as they walked through. “They’re very nice,” said Master Sgt. Robert Mickle, a 19-year career soldier. “I haven’t seen homes this nice anywhere else I’ve

been.” Mickle and his wife Stacy were checking out the model duplex at the December event with an eye toward their own home. “We’re number three on the waiting list,” he said. Each unit features a two-car garage, hardwood floors downstairs with tile in the kitchen area, energy-star compliant appliances and laundry rooms. “It’s very impressive,” Mickle said. While some of the new housing is being built as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure growth on post, not all units are being constructed because of BRAC. In fact there has been a need for

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BEYOND BRAC on-post housing for some time. The post is supposed to be able to house a little more than a third of the permanant party soldiers, which is expected to be about 4,900 soldiers at the end of the BRAC process next year.. Additionally, some of the oldest homes on post are close to a half century old — older than many of the soldiers living in them. Fort Lee Commonwealth Communities, a 50-year public-private partnership between


1,000 homes on Fort Lee. The Army decided years ago to make a move to publicprivate partnerships in fulfilling the housing needs of solWorkers labor on new, modern housing units diers. Since its incepat Fort Lee. About 90 percent of housing on post will be less than 10 years old when tion the RCI — construction is complete. or Residential Communities the Army and Hunt, PinIntiaitve — has taken nacle and Falcon LLC, approximately $1 billion will rehabilitate, develop in federal government and construct more than assets and leveraged it to

generate more than $10 billion in construction and renovation development throughout the Department of Defense. For those soldiers that don’t get a place to live on post, the housing division of the RCI office helps soldiers to locate appropriate housing off post. With some soldiers opting to live as far away as Richmond, most though choose to live locally in Colonial Heights, Prince George, Chesterfield, Petersburg, Hopewell or Dinwiddie.

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

COMBAT The primary mission of Fort Lee is a training center — when the entirety of the Base Realignment and Closure growth is done on post, it is expected to be the third largest training installation in the Army. But Fort Lee is also home to the 49th Group, which has seen frequent combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. As of May 2008, roughly 4,500 soldiers based at Fort Lee have been deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. About 3,500 of those soldiers were part

Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

in a variety of disciplines including petroleum and water specialties and mortuary affairs. Companies from within Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Beckman participates in the group the 2009 Department of the Army Best Warrior have been deCompetition held last year at Fort Lee. ployed almost of the 49th Quartermaster constantly Group. since the beginning of the The 49th Group is made war on terror — and even up of 15 companies — before that. about 2,400 active duty Maj. Mark McGovern soldiers — who are trained said that the 54th and

111th are the only two active duty mortuary affairs units in the Army. He said that the two units have been near constantly deployed on one-year rotations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively. While they have deployed to those areas on a rotating basis, the units have also lent a helping hand when called upon in other areas such as the recent earthquake in Haiti.



Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II

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Fort Lee: Operation Expansion II



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