Camp Wichita, today better known as Fort Sill, Okla., was never a sleepy frontier outpost. In the 1800s Fort Sill was home to six cavalry regiments accompanied by frontier scouts such as "Buffalo Bill" Cody, "Wild Bill" Hickok, Ben Clark and Jack Stilwell.

Today there is even more hustle and bustle as it gets ready to accept the return of Soldiers from overseas posts or reassignment from other Army installations as part of the ongoing Base Realignment and Closure program, the global repositioning of troops, and the growth of today's Army.

The move of the Air Defense Artillery School and the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade from Fort Bliss in Texas to Fort Sill is causing much of that new construction. It requires building new instructional buildings, barracks, dining facilities, vehicle maintenance facilities, and administrative buildings. Many existing buildings are being renovated and upgraded.

It also means a huge influx of families into the area. In addition, 'on base' infrastructure will have to be built or improved to support the additional troops.

The Tulsa District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with four other districts -- Fort Worth, Little Rock, Savannah, and Norfolk -- have combined efforts to have everything ready for the troops.

Some of the troops have already reported to Fort Sill and most of the troops will be there by 2010, one year before the required BRAC completion in September of 2011. Total cost for the two large BRAC projects is approximately $338 million.

Ramona Wagner, Tulsa District's chief of Military Construction Program and Project Management Office, said, "With the combined skills and dedication to getting the job done by these partnering districts, we should have everything up and running by the target dates."

Another project to soon be advertised will be a nearly $40-million, 1,200-person Armed Forces Reserve Center to be built on Fort Sill.

Fort Sill remains the only active Army installation of all the forts built on the south plains during the early days of our country. Although it has not increased the size of its boundaries, officials said it certainly has increased its size and stature within today's modern Army.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16