The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives held its National Center for Explosives Training and Research facility 'groundbooming' Thursday, fully living up to the term.

ATF's facility will be a state-of-the-art facility, fully integrating its explosives-training, research, and information-sharing activities. This additional range and classroom space will enable ATF to meet increasing demands from federal, state, local and international partners for its advanced post-blast and other explosives-training classes.

The explosives ranges, laboratories, and office space will provide additional space where members of the interagency explosives research community can collaborate and conduct testing.

The ceremony was officiated by ATF acting director Michael J. Sullivan, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and deputy attorney general Mark Filip.

"This event proves that Team Redstone is committed to making a positive difference in our nation's defense of freedom," Redstone commander Maj. Gen. Jim Myles said. "As we look to the future, the strength of the nation depends on our united efforts to remain vigilant and committed to be ready for the world's ever-changing environment. Everything we do improves the quality of our training and vigilance secures our future."

ATF maintains technical expertise, knowledge, experience and forensic capabilities related to explosives properties, mixtures and devices. The Department of Justice established NCETR as a division within ATF's Office of Training and Professional Development after Congress passed the 2002 Homeland Security Act, to train federal, state, local and international law enforcement personnel and to conduct cutting-edge explosives related research.

The planned facility will provide explosives training for ATF personnel as well as for law enforcement and other first responders from the explosives community. It will be used to promote and conduct research to improve the ability of ATF and its partners to investigate bombings, prevent diversion of explosives from legal commerce to the black market, and to ensure the safe, secure storage of explosives.

This facility will consist of three explosives ranges, eight classrooms, laboratories, a conference facility and office space for ATF personnel and its partners from the law enforcement and explosives communities. The facility is scheduled to be completed by 2010.