Establishing the Army’s Sustainment Center of Excellence requires close coordination among several installations, the movement of organizations
and personnel without disrupting ongoing training requirements, and completion
of major construction projects while meeting mandated deadlines. By the time
the dust settles in 2011, Fort Lee will be the Army’s third largest training installation.
In 2005, Congress endorsed a Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission
recommendation that Fort Lee, Virginia, stand up the Sustainment Center of Excellence (SCoE). Today, a walk around Fort Lee offers impressive physical evidence that the installation is well on its way to fulfilling that mandate. Almost 5 million square feet of facilities (over 1 million square feet more than the Pentagon) are under construction to transform Fort Lee into the Army’s SCoE. When completed, the new construction will more than double the size of the post’s facilities. To date, the new SCoE headquarters building, the Army Logistics University (ALU), and the Simulation Training Center have been completed and are operational, paving the way for achieving what will be a remarkable training capability by the BRAC-directed deadline of 15 September 2011.
The 2005 BRAC Commission report outlines what CASCOM and other agencies need to accomplish by September 2011: relocate the Ordnance Center and Schools from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, to Fort Lee; move the Transportation Center and School (minus certain specialized elements) from Fort Eustis, Virginia, to Fort Lee; consolidate the Quartermaster Center and School, already at Fort Lee, into the SCoE; and expand the Army Logistics Management College (ALMC) to become ALU.
Other BRAC-directed changes for Fort Lee affect joint and Department of Defense (DOD) organizations. Elements of Air Force transportation management training will move from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to Fort Lee, and Air Force and Navy culinary training will relocate from Lackland Air Force Base and Great Lakes Naval Station, Illinois, respectively, to fort lee to establish a joint center of excellence for culinary training. Elements of the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) will move from San Antonio, Texas; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Hopewell, Virginia, to Fort Lee, and the headquarters of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) will move to Fort Lee from Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Principles Guiding the Transformation
To implement these BRAC 2005 congressional mandates, the Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) and Fort Lee are following four main guiding principles in standing up the SCoE. The first principle is to “train the load to standard,” meaning that all students receive training that meets all requirements. This is the Army Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC’s) edict and its number one mission. The commanding general of TRADOC has stated that there will be no disruption of training during the time it takes to implement BRAC.
The second principle is to minimize interruptions of training. Much emphasis is placed on minimizing delays in course start and completion dates. Several of the schools relocating to Fort Lee have adjusted their movement plans to adhere to this principle.
The third principle is to take care of employees and families. Both Major General James E. Chambers, the CASCOM commanding general, and Colonel Mike Morrow, the garrison commander, are working hard to improve the quality of life at Fort Lee. Many construction projects—including dining, lodging, transportation, fitness, and recreation facilities—are underway to take care of Soldiers and their families.
The final principle is to ensure that every CASCOM employee moving from another installation to Fort Lee to work will have a job. Since many job vacancies will arise, CASCOM leaders promise to help those workers who commit to relocate to Fort Lee and its surrounding communities. Overall, CASCOM and Fort Lee stand behind the number one mission—to train the load to standard—and the transformation of the sustainment community for the Army, all while taking care of all employees and their families.
Several organizations were created to lead, organize, and implement the BRAC mission at Fort Lee, including a CASCOM BRAC Office. It is currently headed by Colonel Jack Hinkley, the Special Assistant to the CASCOM Commanding General for BRAC, and Colonel Edward Gully, the Deputy Garrison Commander for Transformation. This office also includes civilians detailed from their TDA (table of distribution and allowances)-authorized positions to work on the BRAC effort, several mobilized Army reservists, and a team of BRAC management contractors.
In addition to a centralized BRAC office, the success of the BRAC mission has also benefited from the schools sending advance parties to Fort Lee early in the process to facilitate coordination and resolve problems. The Ordnance School advance party, led by Gayle Olszyk, the deputy to the Ordnance Schools commander, relocated to Fort Lee in late 2007 and colocated with the CASCOM BRAC Office. The garrison command and the BRAC Office have established an extremely close working relationship to ensure continuity and share information across the installation.
The consolidation and formation of the Army’s SCoE is the most complex and expensive BRAC project within TRADOC. The schools under CASCOM will be moving the most courses of any TRADOC component, with course moves spread over a 3-year period. Sixty-one courses moved to Fort Lee in fiscal year 2009 (mostly quartermaster courses), 74 courses are moving in fiscal year 2010 (mainly ordnance and transportation courses), and 50 courses will move in fiscal year 2011 (the remaining ordnance courses). A total of 185 out of 341 CASCOM school courses, or 54 percent, will move to Fort Lee. These courses are currently geographically dispersed across the United States. (See chart below.) To accomplish this enormous task, additional temporary instructors are required to conduct simultaneous training at both losing and gaining installations. The goal is to minimize training interruption, in compliance with one of the key BRAC guiding principles.
Even with the BRAC consolidations, CASCOM school courses will still be conducted at installations other than Fort Lee. For example, the BRAC Commission acknowledged that it would not be wise to move all of the Transportation School to Fort Lee; it therefore authorized CASCOM to retain rail, watercraft, and cargo-handling training at Fort Eustis. M1 Abrams tank and M2/3 Bradley fighting vehicle multicapable maintainer training will move from Fort Knox, Kentucky, to Fort Benning, Georgia, to parallel the move of the Army Armor School. Approximately half of wheeled vehicle mechanic training will remain at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Despite geographical dispersion, all of this training will remain an integral part of the training mission of the SCoE.
All the course moves and personnel relocations are tied to one key factor: construction. Over $1.36 billion is programmed for fiscal years 2007 to 2011 to fund BRAC construction requirements at Fort Lee. This includes $1.2 billion in Army requirements to support the establishment of the SCoE, $47 million in DOD requirements (for the DeCA and DCMA moves to Fort Lee), and $88 million in joint requirements (for the Air Force and Navy culinary and Air Force transportation management relocations to Fort Lee).
The physical occupation of the new SCoE headquarters occurred in early 2009; the move began with the CASCOM headquarters and staff elements, which were followed by the offices of the three schools’ commanding generals (Quartermaster, Ordnance, and Transportation). The new ALU and Simulation Training Center opened for business during the summer of 2009. ALU is responsible for all logistics professional military education for the Officer Education System, Warrant Officer Education System, and Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) Education System and for logistics civilian education.
The Ordnance School’s moves also started in fiscal year 2009, when the Tactical Support Equipment Department relocated from Aberdeen Proving Ground. The remainder of the Ordnance School at Aberdeen and Redstone Arsenal will move during 2010 and 2011. Portions of the Transportation School will relocate from Fort Eustis to Fort Lee in August 2010 and will occupy the current Quartermaster School NCO Academy facility after it is renovated.
An effort of this magnitude requires strict adherence to tight timelines for both construction and post-construction schedules. BRAC construction projects are more time constrained and time sensitive than normal construction projects because they require design, planning, and execution to be carried out simultaneously to meet the schedules and stay within budget. Accurate timing of moves is crucial because they will occur in a “domino” fashion, with each move impacting the timing of others. Several CASCOM BRAC moves affect not only other installations (Aberdeen, Redstone, and Fort Eustis) but also the occupation of other buildings at Fort Lee.
Construction of quality-of-life facilities initially was under-resourced. However, funding and construction of those projects is catching up with the BRAC-directed growth at Fort Lee. With the average daily population of the installation increasing by approximately 113 percent, dining, lodging, transportation, fitness, and recreation facilities are essential. Temporary and permanent facilities are programmed and funded to meet the needs of the Soldiers, families, and Army civilians who work and live at Fort Lee. As with all large-scale projects, Department of the Army funding is critical to success.
|An aerial view of Fort Lee shows the new Sustainment Center of Excellence headquarters building
in the center. Directly to its left
is Mifflin Hall, the long-time home
of the Quartermaster School.
Retaining Key Personnel
The establishment of the SCoE is creating many job opportunities for civilian employees, and CASCOM leaders want to capitalize on ways to bring talented people to Fort Lee. While some installations are losing organizations and people to Fort Lee, they will gain new personnel from organizations that come in to replace those departing. Because some employees may be reluctant to relocate to Fort Lee, the potential exists for an “intellectual brain drain” that may cause shortages of qualified people in certain specialties in the SCoE.
In 2008, CASCOM employees were asked to volunteer for permanent assignments to the SCoE organization. By volunteering, employees were guaranteed a specific written job offer for a reassignment at their current permanent grade or an equivalent level. As a result of this process, CASCOM leaders learned of over 400 anticipated vacancies that the organization must quickly fill. A variety of efforts are underway to encourage employees to relocate to Fort Lee, including career fairs, community visits, early sponsorships, and permissive temporary duty visits.
Many individuals and organizations have expended countless hours to ensure that the spirit and the intent of the BRAC 2005 congressional mandates are carried out successfully. The transformation to the Army’s SCoE is the most complex and expensive portion of BRAC within TRADOC. When the Ordnance School’s central campus is completed, Fort Lee will be the third largest training installation in the Army. Fort Lee personnel have proven that the installation is ready to meet the challenge of becoming the “center of the logistics universe.” This is a great opportunity for Fort Lee, the Army, and all those who proudly support CASCOM and its warfighters. Support Starts Here!
For more information on Fort Lee and the SCoE transformation, visit the CASCOM BRAC website at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/561086.