Leaders discuss post, area growth
Fort Gordon leaders are working with area officials to help them meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities presented by planned growth at the installation in coming years.
Current plans call for more than 3,000 additional service members, federal civilians and other workers to arrive for duty between now and 2019. Installation officials project that they’ll be accompanied by about 5,000 family members.
“We’re all very excited by the prospect of growth at Fort Gordon,” said Col. Samuel G. Anderson, Fort Gordon Garrison commander. “This tells us that our national leadership has high confidence in our ability to carry out these important missions, and points to a bright future for our installation.”
Department of the Army announced Dec. 19 that the headquarters of Army Cyber Command would relocate to Fort Gordon from its current Washington, D.C.-area locations. That announcement also included the news that the Army would establish the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, making it the center of gravity for cyber warriors’ training and doctrine development. Combined with other growth, primarily in intelligence units on the installation, the installation’s population will rise to its highest level in years and bring an additional 500 students per year to the post for training.
Growth of this magnitude can be challenging to manage, Anderson said. He has embarked on a series of briefings for local leaders that he hopes will give them an idea of the magnitude of the planned growth and help them make their own plans.
“We recognize that with this growth come great opportunities and great responsibility, both for Fort Gordon and the surrounding communities,” he said. “These new arrivals to the CSRA will use the road network, send their children to local schools, purchase or rent homes in area neighborhoods and make use of community services. Effectively managing this growth will require a cooperative effort between Fort Gordon and our neighbors. We are committed to assisting them in any way possible.”
Anderson said that, because very few new family housing units are planned for the installation, virtually all of the new service members will live in offpost neighborhoods. While this represents an economic boom for the communities in which they reside, it also means a wave of new students in neighborhood schools and commuters on nearby roadways. Anderson added that the installation will provide as much information as early as possible to help local planning agencies and school districts adjust their plans accordingly.
“We’re in this together, and we’ll do our part,” Anderson said. “ Our success in managing this growth depends on our civilian neighbors succeeding as well. For our part, we will look at impacts on the installation – our ability to meet on-post demands for services and infrastructure. But we’ll also look closely at impacts off the installation, and try to anticipate ways we can assist the local community in accommodating our growing population.”
The growth comes with a growing list of infrastructure needs. Almost $30 million in renovation and modernization of Fort Gordon facilities is already under way, according to figures provided by the Directorate of Public Works. Post officials say an additional $170 million in new construction and $56 million in additional renovations are needed; a figure they concede is likely to grow.
“Those figures for potential construction represent a snapshot in time – our planned military construction as of today,” Anderson said. “However, discussions are continuing about our facility needs, so we expect these figures to change. In addition, it should be noted that most of these dollars have not yet been appropriated; budget discussions in Washington could have an impact the size of our military construction budget.”
Anderson says nothing is certain until these new service members and units arrive, and he recommends patience and flexibility in the Fort Gordon community as plans unfold.
“ Many factors can affect the scope and pace of this growth – budgets and national strategy chief among them,” he said. “We are a military in transition, entering the post-war era, and we could face many changes to our armed forces. This is the plan as we know it today. All that said, there’s no place I’d rather be, and no community that will do a better job of welcoming new service members and families than Fort Gordon and the CSRA.”