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CENTCOM to hold ribbon cutting for new annex

by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman
Thunderbolt editor

This artist's rendering shows how the structure will look once both wings are complete. The structure is built to withstand winds from a category three hurricane.

Officials from U.S. Central Command will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday for its new J-2 Annex facility located just west of Bayshore Boulevard.

"The Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility was built to provide a controlled access temporary facility to house CENTCOM J-2 personnel, primarily from the intelligence branches," said Pat Thomas, CENTCOM assistant technical liaison. "This facility will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the CENTCOM intelligence directorate to fight the War on Terrorism and continued support of OEF." Mr. Thomas has been coordinating the needs of CENTCOM with the project managers at Naval Air Systems Command and their various sub-contractors.

This new facility is the first of two phases of a building that will ultimately total 54,000 square feet. Phase I will accommodate 234 intelligence analysts, although they won't be moving in right away, said Mr. Thomas.

He said because the information these analysts use is classified, the computers and personnel will have to be moved in waves over the next few months to ensure the security of the data and continuity of operations.

The $3.9 million price tag for the construction of both phases belies the fact that the facility remains quite utilitarian. There are several conference rooms and offices for senior leadership, but each floor is laid out primarily to accommodate cubicles. Although there are multiple jacks for secure phone lines and enough power to run up to three computers at each station, not even the highest ranking officer gets an office with a view, as there isn't a single window in the entire building.

Brian Husak, Site Manager for one of NAVAIR's sub-contractors, BAE Systems, as well as the future facility manager, has been supervising the on-site construction since the groundbreaking in November 2004. However, MacDill's scenic location isn't where this structure has its origins.

"The building is actually steel-framed modules made in a factory in Texas and hauled in tractor-trailer-like fashion to MacDill, where they were assembled and welded together on site," said Mr. Husak. "The exterior is stucco that was installed on-site."

The annex consists of 30 modules measuring 68 by 14 feet, with 15 on each floor of the two-story structure. There are two additional protrusions that serve as the mechanical rooms.

John Kelly, senior vice president of Fleishman Garcia, is the architect behind the design and has been involved with plenty of civilian and military construction in the Tampa Bay area.

"I've never built a structure quite like this before," he said. "It's unique because it's such a large modular building."

Mr. Kelly has been building on MacDill more than 20 years and said the biggest difference with building a structure like this versus a regular commercial facility is that standards are more rigorous due to security concerns.

"The materials we use are basically the same but there are multiple layers of security. There is intrusion protection, security cameras and cipher locks on the doors," said Mr. Kelly. "Even if someone can get into the building, that doesn't mean they can get into every room."

This building marks the halfway point for the total construction project. There will be a ground breaking in July for Annex II, which will add an additional 24,000 square feet and house another 202 personnel. Completion of that wing of the building is planned for January.



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