U.S. Army Forces Command leaders broke ground Dec. 16 on a new facility to reestablish the command’s Geospatial Readiness Center, which was destroyed by a tornado on April 16, 2011.
The 25,000-square-foot, $7-million facility will be used by Soldiers from the 100th Engineer Company and civilian staff members to coordinate map and data transfers between the National Geospatial Agency and U.S. Army units across the country.
Since the original facility’s destruction in 2011, these geospatial information specialists and technicians have worked in available office spaces spread across Fort Bragg. The tornado, which left a mile-wide path that destroyed or damaged hundreds of local homes and businesses in counties around Fort Bragg, was one of 178 confirmed tornadoes across 16 U.S. states over a three-day span.
The Army’s geospatial intelligence community is small in numbers but executes a vital mission, said Col. Todd A. Megill, FORSCOM’s deputy chief of staff, G-2, for intelligence.
“The geospatial intelligence piece of our Army, as we evolve to an expeditionary force, is going to demand all of our best efforts,” Megill said to the Soldiers who will man the building’s work and training areas upon its completion. “(The GRC will be) a place to come and work, and get better, because the Army certainly needs your capabilities.”
The Geospatial Readiness Center’s staff stands ready to supports U.S. Army formations through its mapping database and wide range of imagery. The center’s primary focus is supporting Fort Bragg-based units such as the XVIII Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division and special-operations forces, but could also be used to support FORSCOM’s corps and division headquarters located across the country.
“Within three years (of the center’s destruction), to start a project like this and to bring together all of the joint capabilities at Fort Bragg and FORSCOM, is pretty significant,” said Maj. Gen. Les Carroll, the FORSCOM chief of staff.
Keeping with groundbreaking tradition, Carroll, Megill, Sgt. Maj. David Johnsrud from FORSCOM G-2 and Walter Ball from the XVIII Airborne Corps, donned U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hardhats and drove gold shovels into the ground of the construction site. Casting aside the project’s first shovelfuls of the region’s “sandhills,” Carroll made eye contact with representatives from the construction team, tapping his watch to say that the clock was ticking to get the building ready for its occupants.
“As a commander in the field, when I start analyzing my mission, all of this (information) is behind me,” Carroll said. “All of these Soldiers’ work, effort and knowledge goes into providing that single decisive moment when a commander says, ‘Here I am.’ This whole effort provides that.”
The reestablished Geospatial Readiness Center is expected to be ready for use by the summer of 2015.