BRAC recommendations complete, benefits for San Antonio ongoing
September 27, 2011
By Lori Newman
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Sept. 27, 2011 -- After $3.4 billion in construction and an estimated $8.3 billion in positive economic impact to the city of San Antonio, the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, recommendations are complete.
"[BRAC was] one of the largest economic development programs in the entire history of San Antonio," said Mike Novak, a member of the Military Transformation Task Force.
"We have completed all of the requirements set forth in the BRAC legislation," said Dr. "CEM" Maxwell, deputy director of the San Antonio Joint Program Office. "That's a considerable accomplishment."
Of the 200 overall BRAC recommendations made, 19 or almost 10 percent impacted military installations in San Antonio, Maxwell said, pointing out the six "major muscle moves," as he called them.
These include the Medical Education and Training Campus, or METC, which consolidated five major enlisted military medical training institutions from across the country at Fort Sam Houston.
METC consists of five new instructional facilities, six existing buildings, three dormitories, a new dining facility, new gymnasium and a headquarters building with a projected average daily student load of 8,000.
"There is nowhere on the face of the earth where students come and learn their skills to a higher level than they do at the Medical Education and Training Campus, in our 1.2 million-square-foot, $800 million-BRAC-purchased facility," said Rear Adm. William Kiser, METC commandant.
"In our short duration of existence, we have already received multiple 'kudos' for the quality of our graduates," Kiser added.
The second of the big six is the San Antonio Military Medical Center, or SAMMC. Brooke Army Medical Center has transitioned to SAMMC and Wilford Hall Medical Center changed its name to Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center Sept. 15.
SAMMC construction projects included a new 760,000-square-foot consolidated tower, renovations to BAMC, a 5,000-space parking garage, central energy plant and the Fort Sam Houston Primary Care Clinic at a total cost of about $802.3 million.
"Once fully operational and staffed, SAMMC will be the largest inpatient health care facility in the Department of Defense and will continue to be the military's only level-one trauma center," said Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, commanding general, Southern Regional Medical Command and Brooke Army Medical Center.
"Ultimately, it's about providing the best possible and highest quality patient-centered health care services, in the best state-of-the-art facility for our patients and maximizing the effectiveness and the value of the health care services that we provide to our beneficiaries," Wong added.
"The Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center will be a premier facility with 38 specialty clinics, four operating rooms and an urgent care center that will operate 24 hours a day," explained Maj. Gen. Byron Hepburn, commanding general, 59th Medical Wing. "It will be the largest ambulatory surgical center in the Department of Defense."
Construction for the new 681,000-square-foot ambulatory surgical center and a 1,000-car parking garage is currently underway.
The third major event was the move and consolidation of the U.S. Army's Installation Management Command to Fort Sam Houston.
Under the provisions of BRAC, Army Environmental Command and IMCOM headquarters moved to Fort Sam Houston, and Family and MWR Command was integrated into IMCOM Headquarters.
The construction and renovation of the IMCOM campus infused approximately $121 million into the San Antonio community.
"We at Installation Management Command have been afforded a great windfall," said IMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola. "We have been treated like royalty on this joint base since we have been here."
The creation of Joint Base San Antonio was another major undertaking, consolidating Fort Sam Houston, Camp Bullis and Lackland and Randolph Air Force Bases.
Brig. Gen. Theresa Carter, commander of the 502nd Air Base Wing credited Brig Gen. Leonard Patrick for creating an identity for Joint Base San Antonio. Patrick was the first commander of Joint Base San Antonio.
"We have three great historic locations, Fort Sam Houston, Randolph and Lackland Air Force Bases," Carter said. "One of the challenges of joint basing is how to combine the installation support functions, while at the same time preserving the history, heritage and lineage of those individual locations. I think General Patrick and his team have done that."
Joint Base San Antonio covers 40,000 acres and supports a workforce of more than 73,000.
Also noteworthy were several laboratory construction projects, such as the creation of the Joint Center for Excellence for Battlefield Health and Trauma Research and the Tri-Service Research Laboratory, or .
The 133,100-square-foot BHT, located on Fort Sam Houston at the U.S. Army Institute for Surgical Research, integrates three services' combat casualty care research missions. The project was completed in August 2010 at a cost of $111 million.
The TSRL is an 181,000-square-foot laboratory designed to house Air Force, Navy and Army components conducting military biomedical research. The facility opened in May and cost $69.9 million.
Many of the construction projects are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certified. The LEED green building rating system, developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, promotes design and construction practices that increase profitability while reducing the negative environmental impacts of buildings and improving occupant health and well-being.
In total, there were 48 BRAC-related construction projects spanning across Joint Base San Antonio.
"We have built or renovated almost 11 million square feet," said David Thomas, director of the San Antonio Joint Program Management Office. "More concrete was poured here than I have seen in my entire career, more than 770,000 cubic yards."
To put that in perspective, the trucks carrying that concrete would span bumper-to-bumper on Interstate 10 from San Antonio to Baton Rouge, La.
There will be another billion dollars in a future year development plan that is not BRAC money, Thomas added.
"San Antonio is 'Military City USA' and we deeply appreciate both the hospitality and the support that the city has given us during this venture," Maxwell said, crediting the city, county and chamber of commerce for positioning the military for success.