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Ground Broken at Shaw AFB on 3rd Army HQ

August 17, 2009

By Susanne M. Schafer – The Associated Press

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. — The Army and the Air Force broke ground Monday on a new headquarters designed to help military planners from both services work shoulder-to-shoulder as they support American troops in eastern Africa, the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It will give us a synergy not seen before and help us provide the best and most timely support for our troops,” said Lt. Gen. William Webster, commander of the 3rd Army, which focuses on Army land force operations in the Middle East including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Webster joined Air Force Maj. Gen. William Holland, commander of the 9th Air Force based here, as they turned over shovelfuls of dirt to start construction on an Army complex of buildings that will house the headquarters and support units for the 3rd Army.

The move was ordered under the 2005 base closure process known as BRAC, which is closing the Army’s present site at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Ga. The move is supposed to be accomplished by 2011.

An Army planning cell already has come to Shaw. The remainder of the slightly more than 1,000 soldiers expected to make the move, along with their families and children, will begin arriving next summer.

Webster said he estimated the move will mean an annual boost of $150 million to the central South Carolina region in salaries, housing payments and other economic ties.

While Army and Air Force personnel work together on the ground and at installations throughout the U.S. Central Command’s 20-nation region, Webster and Holland both said it was important get beyond the telephone, computer screen and e-mail relationships that make up most of their day. It is especially important as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, they said.

“We have the same mission, but we can’t do it as well unless we coordinate and cooperate. This allows us to do that on a day-to-day basis,” Holland said.

“It will be worth every penny the government is paying to do this,” Webster said of the $92 million complex.

Webster said the U.S. Army Central Command complex will include offices for command and control units, a headquarters support building, a motorpool and a physical training site.

Shaw Air Force Base is home to the 20th Fighter Wing, which is composed of around 88 F-16 fighter jets. It is also home of the support units for Air Forces Central Command, which oversees air operations in the Central Command region.

There are about 7,000 active duty, 1,300 civilians and some 9,000 dependents attached to the installation.

Click here to view the entire story at Air Force Times.

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