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CENTCOM unveils new Intelligence office

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman
Thunderbolt editor

United States Central Command unveiled its new Intelligence Operations Division office with a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday morning. Brig. Gen. John Custer, Director of Intelligence, said the new facility was a long time coming.

"This state-of-the-art facility is a welcome change to the root cellar this place looked like before," said General Custer. "This project was only possible because the Defense Intelligence Agency- who is funding the renovation, understands our facility shortcomings and the importance of the mission our analysts perform here at MacDill. This was money well spent."

Brig. Gen. John Custer, Intelligence Operations director at U.S. Central Command, cuts the ribbon opening the new control room for the Intelligence Division Wednesday.

The new furniture and computers are only part of the $1 million renovation.

Another phase of the overall project is currently under construction.

Photos by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman

This phase of the project, a complete renovation of 4,500 sq. ft. space within the CENTCOM Headquarters, cost roughly $1 million, said John Ward, Chief of Resources and Requirements. He said a majority of the money went into the improving the air conditioning, and to install a new fiber-optic communications infrastructure that enables the intelligence specialists to operate at a more efficient level. He added that the completion of this project is just the beginning of the Intelligence Directorate's efforts to upgrade their facilities.

"This has been a long time coming," he said. "Most of our efforts go into the war and our troops overseas. This is the first opportunity we've had to be able to renovate office space."

In addition to the communications equipment and security measures for intelligence information, there is also new office furniture and better lighting for the 67 people assigned to the division. There are already two more phases of the same overall project underway to change work centers from dimly-lit and poorly-ventilated rooms into ergonomic, well-organized and air-conditioned offices. Mr. Ward said the $7 million project will continue for at least another year and a half.

Finding transition space continues to be a major challenge during the project, said Steve Wells, the renovation project manager. In order to renovate these spaces, all of the people in the office have to be relocated to temporary spaces in the headquarters building or to trailers outside of the building. Not only does CENTCOM need to provide adequate space and furniture to move people, but a lot of effort is also expended to provide the communications (voice and data) necessary for the analysts to continue supporting the war efforts.

"We would like to do the work all at once," said Mr. Wells. "But where do you put everybody while you are renovating?"

While the inter-office shuffle continues to be a burden for those who are displaced, the final result is a welcome change to a more comfortable and efficient working environment. And like the General said- it seems like money well spent.




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