Corps of Engineers' Huntsville Center celebrates 40th anniversary, unique mission
October 17, 2007
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, celebrated its 40th anniversary Oct. 15. Huntsville Center, as it is commonly referred to, was established by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as Huntsville Division in 1967 with a single mission - to design and construct facilities for the deployment of the Army's Ballistic Missile Defense System.
Forty years later, the Center is still unique within the Corps of Engineers. While most Corps offices focus on locks, dams and other regional projects and receive funding from Congress, Huntsville Center has no geographic boundaries and performs its work worldwide on a reimbursable basis.
Huntsville Center does not replicate the work of other Corps offices. Instead, its programs either support other offices or are unique services not offered by others.
"We started with just one program and one mission, defense of the homeland, and 40 years later we are still focused on this mission using our specialized engineering and contracting capabilities," said John Matthews, Huntsville Center Deputy for Programs and Technical Management, and a Huntsville Center employee since 1977. "Forty years later, we now have numerous programs that support homeland security both here and abroad."
Huntsville Center programs have evolved from its history and experience. For example, in the 1970s, Huntsville Center was responsible for upgrading aging munitions storage facilities nationwide and installation restoration projects which eventually led to Huntsville Center's role in the cleanup of Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) for the Army.
Huntsville's experience with the FUDS program from scratch led to Huntsville's designation as a Center of Expertise (CX) for Military Munitions, where it continues to work with districts and provide guidance.
"Our ordnance removal program is a good example of how we can develop and transfer knowledge and technical expertise," Matthews said. The Center will incorporate the Hazardous, Toxic and Radioactive Waste Center of Expertise, located in Omaha, Neb., with its Military Munitions CX to become the Environmental and Munitions Center of Expertise in November.
Huntsville Center's Ordnance and Explosive program includes ordnance and explosives safety, a chemical warfare material design center, a military munitions design center, and its Coalition Munitions Clearance work in Iraq - all of which help protect the public and environment.
Huntsville Center missions often require a centralized management structure and require the integration of facilities that cross Corps geographic boundaries. They may also require commonality, standardization, multiple-site adaptation or technology transfer. For example, since 1981, the Chemical Demilitarization Program has been dealing with the nationwide mission of designing and building facilities for the destruction of America's aging chemical weapons stockpile. Its mission continues to grow through collaborations on international biological and chemical threat reduction projects.
Homeland security has been enhanced through monitoring and security provided to installations through programs like Utility Monitoring and Control Systems, Fire Protection Life Safety, Electronic Security Systems and Access Control Points.
In addition to its monitoring and security programs, the Center's Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate deals with life-cycle infrastructure management and its programs range from facility planning and military construction programming for Army Transformation to utilities procurement, barracks and office furniture, and facilities deconstruction/demolition. Renewal, replacement and operations and maintenance are also provided to facilities.
"What began as procurement of medical furniture and equipment has become a multi-million dollar program and includes the Medical Center of Expertise," Matthews said. "The Medical Center of Expertise recently helped Baltimore District with a project at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., by developing the design-build request for proposal for the project and supporting the execution effort with technical support during solicitation. Also, our Integrated Modular Medical Support Systems program purchased furniture for the facility."
Huntsville Center has several CXs, with some being mandatory and the others being Directories of Expertise (DX). "Our Installation Support DX covers more than 12 programs, and like many of our programs, services other government agencies outside DoD," Matthews said.
Huntsville Center is also a Center of Standardization for 16 facility types ranging from physical fitness centers and medical facilities to ranges and training lands. The goal of this kind of standardization is speeding up MILCON Transformation efforts.
"A recent example of Huntsville Center's standardization efforts is the new $19 million Paul R. Smith Fitness Center at Fort Benning, Ga., which was one of the first and largest, built using the physical fitness center criteria," Matthews said.
"We were established to assist customers with challenges and specialized projects, and we have been successful for 40 years because we have consistently provided quality products and service while maintaining a diverse workload around the globe," Matthews said.