Fort Belvoir set to grow

Fort Belvoir could see an additional 18,420 military and civilian positions — the largest net gain of any facility in the nation — under Base Realignment and Closure recommendations released by the Pentagon on Friday, according to base officials.

“Our mid-Atlantic location is key to military and industrial activities,” Gov. Mark Warner said at a press conference in Arlington on Friday afternoon. “The [Department of Defense] has seen Virginia’s military advantage and has reaffirmed that.”

Based on Friday’s BRAC recommendations, Fort Belvoir can expect an increase of 3,677 military personnel and 14,753 civilian employees and contract positions, Richard Arndt, base spokesman, said in the press release.

A new $1 billion, 165-bed hospital would account for some of those positions.

The Belvoir hospital will be the second and the smaller of two proposed new hospitals for the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.

Walter Reed, located in Washington, D.C., will continue to operate while the new facility is being built, officials said in a Pentagon press briefing Friday.

The combination of the new Walter Reed center and the Bethesda center will be called the National Medical Regional Center.

Fort Belvoir spokesman Don Carr said the new hospital and consolidation could only make military medical care better.

“We would expect the expansion of the medical facilities to significantly improve the quality and the availability of care for local military folks, their families and of course retirees,” he said.

The BRAC recommendations are the first step.

Next a 20-member commission will review the list, make its recommendations and forward the list to the President by Sept. 8 2005.

The president will have until Sept. 23 to accept or reject the recommendations.

If he accepts the recommendations, the President will forward the list to the Congress which has 45 legislative days to act on the report.

During the review process, the commission will hold regional meetings for public input.

“They may hold one in this area, but it has not yet been scheduled,” Arndt said in the release.

Carr said the Pentagon’s report Friday only confirmed what the Warner and people in the area already knew.

“The BRAC recommendations demonstrate what we’ve known for a long time now. We’re a valuable installation in the national capital region,” he said.

The commission also recommended that 22,925 positions be moved out of leased space in Northern Virginia.

The problem is that some of the leased space cannot be made to meet new Homeland Security requirements.

Warner said he expects many of those positions to remain in the area.

“It looks like some of those leased office spaces may be moved to Belvoir or other locations in the region,” Warner said.

Warner expects minimal disruption to families in Northern Virginia as a result of the BRAC recommendations.

He said he would ask the commission if some of the leased space can be retrofitted to make it more secure and if some of the positions could be moved to more suitable locations in Virginia.

“My message to the military personnel and contractors in the area is to stay calm and keep in mind this is the beginning of the process,” Warner said.

Arndt said the following activities have been identified to move to Fort Belvoir:

· Medical care functions from Walter Reed Army Medical Center

· Army and DoD organizations presently in leased space in the National Capital Region

· Logistics functions from Naval Support Activity, Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio

· Elements of PEO Enterprise Information Systems from Fort Monmouth, N.J.

· National Geospatial Agency units from leased locations in the national capital region and Bethesda, Md.

The following activities have been identified to move from Ft. Belvoir to other locations, Arndt said.

· The Army Materiel Command Headquarters to Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

· The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command to Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

· The U.S. Army Prime Power School to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

· The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division Headquarters to Quantico Marine Corps base.

· Soldiers Magazine to Fort Meade, Md.

· Elements of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to Fort Detrick, Md., Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Bethesda, Md.

· Elements of Information Systems, Sensors, Electronic Warfare and Electronics Research to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

Ft. Belvoir currently houses the Defense Logistics Agency Headquarters, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command and the Information Systems Software Center.

It is also home to the J.S. Mosby U.S. Army Reserve Center, the Army Management Staff College and the Defense Mapping School.

The post has an Army airfield, three golf courses and two wildlife refuges.