After more than half a century of standing as a symbol of the U.S. Army Signal Corps and Fort Gordon, the iconic Signal Towers will be coming down.
Hundreds of Soldiers, Veterans, and civilians alike gathered at the base of Signal Towers for a memorialization ceremony April 22. Built in 1968, the iconic 10-story building was dedicated on Aug. 15, 1970, and remained operational up until July 31, 2021, when its doors closed for good in preparation for what will be known as the Fort Gordon Cyber Campus. Adjacent to Signal Towers was Alexander Hall, an 800-seat auditorium, and four nearby academic buildings; all of which will also be demolished.
At its peak, Signal Towers featured a cafeteria, bookstore, bank, barbershop and exercise room on the ground floor for staff in the building. By construction’s end, the new cyber campus will feature a walkable, college-like campus with state-of-the-art classrooms, robust communications capabilities, and powerful heating/air conditioning (essential when working with large computer servers and heat-generating equipment). It will include four new buildings and eight modernized facilities at an estimated cost of $924 million.
Serving as host of the memorialization ceremony, Brig. Gen. Paul T. Stanton, U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general, shared details surrounding one of his first meetings last summer as commanding general. That meeting focused on plans for the new CCoE headquarters and cyber campus, which he described as “a massive and complex undertaking with many dependencies” that left him with a pit in his stomach, he said, as soon as he heard it entailed the demolition of Signal Towers. But as details emerged and plans began unfolding before his eyes, Stanton’s perspective changed.
“Upon further reflection, I no longer have a pit in my stomach about being the one who will decommission Signal Towers,” he said.
More than a mere structure made of bricks, concrete and steel, Stanton said Signal Towers represents so much more. It represents the dedication and service of countless Signal Regiment members and Veterans with ties to it. It has been as a symbol of the Fort Gordon community, visible for miles, initially giving Soldiers in battle a sight advantage. But as time passed and technology evolved, the need for Signal Towers dissipated.
“We still bravely position assets on the battlefield; we just do it in dramatically different ways,” Stanton said. “We still use terrain to our advantage, but rarely will we position ourselves on the highest point where today’s enemies will target us. Rather, we use the terrain with technology to shoot data up the satellites and back down to our command post. We use technology to own the low ground … to purposely not be seen by the enemy.”
Stanton went on to say that just as the battlefield has evolved, the means in which Soldiers train and are educated must also evolve – starting at Fort Gordon.
From 2010-2013, both the Military Intelligence Corps and Signal Corps developed cyberspace-focused military occupational specialties, and in December 2013, it was announced that Fort Gordon was selected to become home to the new U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER). The cyber branch was formally established in 2014, and subsequently the U.S. Army Cyber School opened. In 2018, the CCoE integrated electronic warfare professionals, and in September 2020, ARCYBER dedicated its new headquarters in a ceremony – a state-of-the-art 336,000-square-foot facility designed to “better enable the integration of cyber, signal, electronic warfare, intelligence and information operations,” said ARCYBER commander Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, during the headquarters’ ceremony.
“This move combined the institutional Army with the operational Army into a single installation such that we now educate, train and equip and fight from one installation – a transformational move that creates great continuity between how we operate and what we teach,” Stanton explained.
Referencing graphics of the future campus and noting the construction going on all around, Stanton said he is excited for the future and gave assurance that Signal Towers will not be forgotten.
“We will memorialize this building and preserve our history, but we’ll bring down this building to make room for what will be the central courtyard of the future Cyber Center of Excellence Headquarters alongside the Cyber School and the Signal School,” he said. “We no longer need a 10-story building as the highest point on post; we don’t need to see our flags. Rather, we need to operate with purpose – quietly, unobserved, to continue to bring the right information to decision makers at the right time – just as we’ve always done.”
Signal Towers will be demolished in phases over several months. The cyber campus is expected to be complete in 2033.