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First pillar of 2010 plan focuses on construction, repairs

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

The first pillar of MacDill's 2010 plan includes major construction and improvement projects designed to support the primary mission of the base and focuses on airfield infrastructure upgrades in addition to major renovations of Central Command and Special Operations Command.

The aim, according to the playbook for MacDill's first decade in 2000, is to support the "world changing mission" by ensuring a "world class base."

The renovation of CENTCOM headquarters will be a major undertaking and weighs in at more than $100 million. In addition to an overhaul of the current CENTCOM headquarters, part of the money will go to construct an additional CENTCOM administration building and a coalition complex that will do away with the mix of mobile home units and modular offices that make up Coalition Village today.

The funding for the project has not been approved, said Mike Cooley, chief of programs, but "we are hoping to make some progress on the $19 million Coalition Village replacement project within the next six months."

Another major project under the mission category is construction of an operations center for SOCOM. With the expanded operational role of SOCOM in the war on terrorism, SOCOM's comand and control responsibilities have been significantly increased and the Warfighter Center of Excellence will be the heart of operations. The $24.5 million project will support an espanding number of new staff members at SOCOM, the manpower needed for the command to meet its new responsibilities, said Cooley.

Other projects falling under the mission phase already have been completed or are under way.

Runway repairs at a cost of $13 million have been done. Another $6.9M in runway work is under way, which includes replacing the approach piers, solving a water pooling problem, and rerouting and straightening of a 135-degree turn at the end of the primary runway, making it a more manageable 90-degree turn.

The $2.8 million flight simulator project is complete and more than $5 million in projects were awarded last year to resurface and repair the taxiways. Another large project under way is constuction of the new $14 million fuel hydrant system, scheduled for completion by January. One problem yet to be resolved on the north and south ramps is underground voids created by failing joints between large storm drainage pipes that date to the 1940s, said Cooley.

There are two projects programmed for the north and south ramps, budgeted at $13 million, to address this problem. As a result of this effort, the base will have a viable airfield that can go 20 years without need of major repairs or upgrades.

Projects yet to start include the new fire station and air control tower. Both are expected to start within a month. Funding for $2.9 million in repairs to the Aerospace Ground Equipment building recently was approved and design work will begin soon.

Cooley said these construction projects lay the groundwork for future aircraft operations, including support for 767 tankers, which according to plans will replace MacDill's fleet of aging KC-135 tankers by 2010.

While some of the work remains in flux, plans are to add larger hangars and nose docks for the big planes. Other elements of the mission phase of the plan are to work closely with city and county officials to control encroachment on the perimeter of the base, ensuring MacDill has the breathing room for the years ahead.

While it is impossible to accurately predict all the future force structure or other changes in a base in the next 20 years, Cooley said, it likewise would be foolish to fail in planning ahead.

"Our wing commanders have led this effort starting with General Diehl's goal in 2000 to create a 2010 plan for the base and reinforced by General Hodges and Colonel Snyder today," said Cooley. "That emphasis on future planning has earned us a lot of credibility with HQ AMC and was a key factor in our success in winning over $100 million in project funding in the last two years. The second pillar in the plan addresses quality of life and deals with meeting the housing needs of the future. In our next installment we will look at plans to return MacDill to being home for everyone from generals to enlisted airmen, with plans for everything from new waterfront homes to quad concept dorms.




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