The Martinez-Evans Rotary Club gained insight about Fort Gordon and its future Friday when the Fort Gordon commander, Brig. Gen. Randolph Strong, spoke at the group's weekly meeting.
"These are truly what I call exciting times at Fort Gordon. Everything is changing," Strong said as he wore the Army's new battle dress uniforms to the meeting at the Augusta Towers Hotel.
"As a guy who spent a lot of time in the military, especially wearing starched BDUs, to suddenly come to work in pajamas is a little unusual."
Strong said the new uniforms are a slight change compared with the other changes coming to Fort Gordon after it was spared from Base Realignment and Closure.
"We did well on the BRAC because it wasn't just Fort Gordon alone trying to survive. It was Fort Gordon and the community of Augusta," said Strong, who took over as the Army's Signal Corps chief and Fort Gordon commanding officer in July when Brig. Gen Janet Hicks retired. "We firmly believe that there will be some growth. Just as a door closes, another one opens up."
Strong said he expects 2,000 to 3,000 new soldiers, mainly in the Military Intelligence divisions, to be added to the 18,000-strong work force at the fort within the next two to three years.
The fort also will see a lot of money headed its way, which bodes well for the fort's future, Strong said.
"Fort Gordon is going to step up to the plate and control the Army's information technology," he said of the Signal Corps' growing importance in the technology and Internet age.
Fort Gordon is working to connect all military computers through information, logistics, personnel, video and other networks.
The Signal Corps is becoming more important as the need for bandwidth and the Corps' ability to provide it to military units and installations around the world grows.
"What it means to you all again here in the local community is Fort Gordon isn't going to go away. If anything, Fort Gordon is becoming more and more important to the military," Strong told the more than 40 Rotary members at the luncheon. "That's what is making Fort Gordon increasingly more important every day."
The fort is expected to receive billions of dollars during the next decade for upgrades and construction. The Military Police will receive a new law enforcement center with funds originally meant for another Georgia fort that was closed in BRAC.
As training changes, the fort will receive about $40 million a year for a few years beginning in 2011 for new classrooms.
More than $6 million was just spent on modular classrooms, Strong said.
Military Intelligence on Fort Gordon will soon have a new home in the form of a new National Security Agency facility, which will cost between $220 million and $440 million and be completed at the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009.
The fort also is receiving $21 million to renovate or rebuild barracks for new Army recruits and an additional $40 million per year beginning in 2011 to rebuild or renovate existing on-post housing for families, Strong said.
Much of the work will be done by area contractors, boosting the more than $1 billion it sends to the Augusta area in economic spinoffs and increasing the fort's number of public-private partnerships.
"This is one of the areas we want to move out into because we're finding that they are very successful," Strong said.
He said he also hopes to see more partnerships concerning municipal services such as wastewater treatment, solid waste, recycling and street sweeping.
"Fifteen years ago, we would not be allowed to do public-private partnerships. The doors are opening now, and these kinds of opportunities are out there,'' he said.
Strong, who has served at Fort Gordon several times during his nearly 28-year military career, said he looked forward to coming back to Augusta.
"If you are a guy like me who's spent time at some of the other wonderful posts in the Army, you'll realize that Augusta has some tremendous offerings as a community."
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