ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Dec. 11, 2008) - Ground was ceremonially broken Wednesday for an estimated $98-million expansion of the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Va.

The groundbreaking, presided over by Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, new chief of the National Guard Bureau, and Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard, marked the start of the project.

The addition, which is funded in part by requirements from the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005, will allow the National Guard Bureau to consolidate personnel from multiple locations in northern Virginia.

"This next building really, really dovetails nicely with (the existing building) and brings our great National Guard Bureau and the rest of our team here in one place," said Vaughn.

According to planning documents, the new building will add about 243,000 square feet and provide workspace for more than 1,100 additional people.

Planned to consist of three floors below ground and five above, the building will also feature an auditorium, fitness center, conference center and a joint operations center.

National Guard leadership wanted the building to be "something of such great beauty" that it would be a source of pride for Army and Air Guard members, Vaughn said.

The building and the consolidation of personnel into one location will allow the National Guard to better serve the nation, said McKinley.

"One of the reasons to (build) this great facility, this expansion, is to protect the force and make sure our force is able to get out the door, " McKinley said, referring to the deployment of troops from the center as needed.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in mid-2011 with personnel occupying the space shortly thereafter.

A five-story parking garage is also scheduled to be built adjacent to the new structure and is scheduled for completion by 2013.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be a part of this great team," said McKinley. "I look forward to this building being built, and the day we cut a ribbon for it."

(Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy serves with the National Guard Bureau.)