Base makes room for trainees

Fort Gordon is growing. For a year, at least.

More than 3,000 additional enlisted men and women will be coming to the base in June for their communications training. In the meantime, Fort Gordon officials are preparing for the new members of the 15th Signal Brigade by constructing six temporary barracks and a new dining facility off Chamberlain Avenue. The $22.8 million project is scheduled to be complete in May, a few weeks before the tenants arrive.

"It's kind of a ballet," said Joe Capps, deputy commander of the Signal Center, who acts as the "dean" of the University of Information Technology.

"Everything has to happen at the right time and right now it looks like it will," he said.

New recruits were expected, but not at this level. The base is ready to handle the influx of students because of yearly contingency funding that is set aside for just such situations, Mr. Capps said. But in this case, the contingency, also called a TRAP, or Training Resources Arbitration Panel, is the largest in years, fort officials said.

Each year, Fort Gordon trains about 15,000 privates to create and run tactical computer networks, radios, cell phone systems and satellite communication systems. The length of training can range from several weeks to nine months. This influx of students, most of whom come straight from basic training, will push that annual number near 18,000. The extra soldiers will crowd housing and dining facilities, prompting the need for new construction.

"This was a big one," Mr. Capps said.

The added personnel are not expected to make too much of a difference in other areas, though. Mr. Capps said the influx of students isn't like moving a brigade, which would involve moving families also, so the impact will be less on the rest of the base. They will be without cars so motorists shouldn't expect too much of a problem getting around the base.

"Of all the bases I've been on this one is probably better off in terms of institutional infrastructure," he said.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

BY THE NUMBERS

3,175 - Additional soldiers coming to Fort Gordon for Signal Center training

$22,889,624 - Cost to construct six temporary barracks and one new dining facility for soldiers

4,000-5,000 - The number of soldiers undergoing signal training at any given time

Source: Joe Capps, deputy commander of the Signal Center