OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. –
As physical construction (Phase I) of U.S. Strategic Command’s future Command and Control Facility (C2F) continues, the project has begun transition to the installation of the Information Technology infrastructure (Phase II).
From this new facility, USSTRATCOM professionals will conduct strategic planning, warfighting operations, provide global situational awareness to the National Command Authorities and combatant commands, aid the president’s nuclear response decision-making process, and, if called upon, deliver a decisive response in all domains.
“This new facility will serve as a visible reminder to allies and adversaries of our national commitment to maintain modern and effective Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) capabilities,” said Gen. John Hyten, commander of USSTRATCOM. “This facility is what our nation needs to support the long-term viability and credibility of our strategic deterrent force. Once complete, the facility and systems will significantly enhance this command’s ability to perform our presidentially assigned missions.”
Leaders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Omaha District say that after nearly six years of Phase I construction, funding for the building’s structure – a 916,000 square foot, state-of-the-art command and control facility – is more than 98 percent allocated.
Several factors contributed to Phase I delays, to include mold mitigation in some areas of ductwork, construction related flood and fire events, and a shortage of qualified tradesmen, causing construction to be upwards of 29 months behind schedule.
“This building is a very complex project that hasn’t been without delays and challenges – some are a normal part of construction and some unexpected,” said Maj. Gen. Rick Evans, USSTRATCOM’s C2F program manager.
However, a shared use agreement between the prime contractor, U.S. Air Force’s Engineering and Installation (E&I) community and the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) gives Phase II a significant head start. Experts from E&I – made up of more than 300 Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active duty experts from around the country – have already placed more than 250,000 linear feet of communication cabling that will enable USSTRATCOM’s warfighting systems to function and communicate in its new C2F.
“The diversity of the networks and the complexity of the communications systems for this facility required a highly skilled team of installers that could be flexible and work within the contractor’s rigid schedule,” said Evans. “We initially considered hiring private contractors to complete this work, but quickly realized the cost was high and the time involved would be too great for providing a combatant commander and the president with command and control systems that are vital to national security. We needed to lay the foundation concurrently.”
The E&I effort to lay more than 650 miles of cable, enough to link Omaha to Dallas directly, will conservatively save the Department of Defense more than $250 million in direct savings and cost avoidance through creative shared use of the facility while narrowing the timeline for the critical installation of the USSTRATCOM’s NC3 systems – the foundational enabler for the nation’s nuclear deterrent and a critical node of the National Military Command System.
“We are grateful that Kiewit Phelps and USACE were willing to allow shared use of the facility to complete this baseline work,” Evans said. “Some delays with a project this large and complex are expected. The ability to install network cabling while the building is under construction helped mitigate future interruptions.”
Outfitting the building with IT systems during Phase II will take experts from SPAWAR an additional 18 to 20 months; however, that number could have been much longer if the IT foundation had not been in place thanks to the shared use agreement.
“During Phase II, we will turn the facility into a combat-ready command and control facility vital to nuclear deterrence and national defense,” said Evans. “The U.S. must have modern facilities and a highly skilled workforce able to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent. This facility will help maintain our readiness and ability to meet our nuclear mission into the future.”
While the command will take every opportunity during Phase II to begin occupancy – moving approximately 3,500 military, civilian and contract employees into their new workspaces – the bulk of personnel will occupy the building during the third, and final, phase of the project.
USSTRATCOM has global responsibilities assigned through the Unified Command Plan that include strategic deterrence, nuclear operations, space operations, joint electromagnetic spectrum operations, global strike, missile defense, and analysis and targeting.
For more information, contact the USSTRATCOM Public Affairs Office at 402-294-4130 or USSTRATCOMPA@mail.mil or visit www.stratcom.mil.