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BRAC Construction at Fort Lee

The construction projects that have been planned in response to the 2005 Defense Base
Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission report present unique opportunities and challenges for the sustainment community and Fort Lee, Virginia. This is an unprecedented opportunity to construct new facilities with enhanced capabilities that will serve the sustainment community effectively for the next 50 years. Those involved in the project must, and will, get this right.

Programmed funding for BRAC construction requirements at Fort Lee totals over $1.3 billion for fiscal years 2007 to 2011—$1.2 billion in Army requirements, $47 million in Department of Defense (DOD) requirements, and $88 million in joint requirements. The Army funds support the creation of the Sustainment Center of Excellence and the moves of the Ordnance and Transportation Schools to Fort Lee. Joint funds support the moves of the Air Force transportation management school and the Air Force and Navy culinary schools. DOD funds support the moves of the Defense Contract Management Agency and the Defense Commissary Agency to the installation.

Fort Lee awarded its first BRAC contract in June 2007. All programmed BRAC construction is slated to be completed by September 2011. The durations of awarded contracts range from 18 months (in the case of the Sustainment Center of Excellence headquarters building) to 25½ months (in the case of a five-building contract for the Ordnance School campus). All of the 35 contracts are running on accelerated timelines, and “float time” is almost non-existent within the construction schedule. Most of the construction contacts are “design-build,” meaning that both the design and construction are included in the contract duration.

Over 4.9-million square-feet of facilities will be built, making the new construction over 1-million square-feet larger than the Pentagon and more than doubling the square footage of Fort Lee’s pre-BRAC facilities. BRAC construction at Fort Lee includes the following projects.

Barracks. The construction of six five-story barracks with company operations facilities is underway. Each will be capable of housing 624 Soldiers or 936 at surge conditions. Combined, the barracks will provide housing for 3,744 Soldiers or 5,616 at surge conditions. Contractors completed the first barracks 18 months after the contract was awarded.

Dining facilities. The second largest dining facility in the Army, which has the capacity to seat 1,512 Soldiers and support a throughput of 3,600 Soldiers in 90 minutes, has been built to support the Ordnance School. This facility was constructed in 18 months. An additional smaller dining facility, to support the Air Force and Navy BRAC-related moves, is in the early stages of construction near the new Soldier Support Center.

Soldier Support Center. A $25 million Soldier Support Center was recently completed and transferred to the installation. It will improve “one-stop” capability for consolidated in-and-out processing for all Soldiers assigned to Fort Lee and thus provide the necessary capacity to support the increased population created by the BRAC moves.

Training facilities. Nine facilities for ordnance maintenance training, each more than 500 feet long, are being constructed. Each of the buildings will have a large, high-bay area that is 400 feet by 160 feet. Fort Lee is also constructing several highly specialized training facilities, including a training area for welders, engine laboratories (including one for M1 Abrams main battle tanks), laser training laboratories, several classified open-storage-capable classrooms and laboratories, an explosive ordnance disposal range, and a simulation and training support center.

Army Logistics University. The university includes 167 classrooms and can seat more than 4,000 students. The anticipated average daily student load is approximately 30-percent greater than that of the Army Command and General Staff College’s Lewis and Clark Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Because of the aggressive timelines, multiple contractors are sharing the same sites. For instance, nine contractors—construction and privatized-utilities contractors—have been working in the same area concurrently on the new Ordnance School campus. This presents significant synchronization challenges.

The facilities are being constructed to published standards; in some cases, this represents significant increases in training capabilities. Installation planners are effectively leveraging technology with an eye to the future. For example, wireless Internet will be available in the bay areas, and local area network connections and data will be available at all student desktops. These facilities also have many reconfigurable, dividable classrooms for varying class sizes and large bay areas that can support multiple platforms.

As of late summer 2009, the Sustainment Center of Excellence headquarters, the Army Logistics University, the Simulation Training Center, the first barracks, and the first ordnance training facility (the Tactical Support Equipment Department) were complete and occupied. So far, the results have been very encouraging, and Fort Lee is indeed on track to “get this right.”

Colonel Edward Gully is the Deputy Garrison Commander for Transformation at Fort Lee, Virginia.

 
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