Across Fort Hood, growth is apparent in the many construction projects underway.
Nearly $1 billion of new construction and big projects are in the works, including a new exchange, a hotel and facilities for units and training, said Brian Dosa, director of Fort Hood’s Directorate of Public Works.
“As we look to the future, we know we’ll have less of new construction,” he said. “This year we had to fight tooth and nail for each project.”
On Monday, officials broke ground on a $24 million Training Support Center on South Range Road.
The new 160,975-square-foot facility will serve as a “mega store warehouse” to support soldiers training at Fort Hood, said Chris Bray, chief of the training division in the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.
“We provide training aids, devices and simulators,” he said. “It’s one-stop shopping for training and supplies.”
Current training support is provided from various facilities across post, including some converted World War II-era barracks. The consolidation will result in a more than 50 percent reduction of buildings presently in use.
Once the new center opens in 2015, everything will be accessible to soldiers in one space. There will be a welcome area, storage with vehicle loading docks, office space, additional trainers and simulators and a fabrication area where center employees can build training aids to order.
“It will give us a lot of capabilities we didn’t used to have,” Bray said. “It will really increase our support to the soldiers.”
Besides Fort Hood soldiers, the center supports training throughout 126 Texas counties, including Goodfellow Air Force Base; Camps Walters and Bowie, Joint Base Grand Prairie; Army Reserve, National Guard and ROTC units; and other Defense Department and federal agencies.
Col. Matt Elledge, garrison commander, said the center’s groundbreaking ceremony was only possible because of “numerous years of determination and relentless effort.”
In Fort Hood’s master plan created by public works, the area where the new center is being built is designed as a “training university.” Nearby are the Medical Simulation Training Center, the Engagement Skills Trainer and the under-construction Pilot Knob Range.
A new Mission Command Center was designed to be built nearby as well. Officials expected it to be programmed in 2015. However, the $46 million project is now at a standstill, Dosa said. It was pulled at the Army level.
“This critical project is Fort Hood’s No. 1 priority for military construction,” Dosa said.
Across post, work has continued on the new Fort Hood Mall, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center and Candlewood Suites.
The new exchange is about 35 percent complete and on target to open in 2015. The hospital also is expected to open in 2015. Officials will begin moving into the facility later this year and will conduct training to ensure everything is ready to go for patients.
The new hotel, on 761st Tank Battalion Avenue near the Phantom Warrior Center, is expected to open in July. The 93-room hotel will feature a variety of amenities, including spacious studios and one-bedroom suites, fully-equipped kitchens and large work areas in each guest room.
A unmanned aerial system hangar will open at West Fort Hood this summer. Made to support 1st Cavalry Division’s two Gray Eagle companies, the hangar has enough space inside for two football fields, Dosa said.
“What’s going on right now at Fort Hood is very exciting,” Doss said.