PUTNAM, Conn. – The Connecticut National Guard broke ground on the future site of a new Readiness Center in Putnam, Conn. during a ceremony in front of local and national civic leaders, veterans, service members, and local residents, Oct. 28, 2022.
The new 39,000 square-foot building will be home to the 643rd Military Police Company which currently resides at the Readiness Center in Westbrook, Conn. which was constructed in the 1950s and does not meet current anti-terrorism and force protection standards. The new facility will provide the unit with state-of-the-art training facilities to remain ready and capable to respond to the needs to the community, state, and nation.
“COVID-19 highlighted that the Guard is vital to securing lifelines and infrastructure in our communities,” said Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, adjutant general for the Connecticut National Guard. “Construction of the Putnam Readiness Center gives us a presence in Northeaster Connecticut that we have not had in well over a decade. It will provide us a staging base to respond to our communities in the ‘Quiet Corner’ much faster when hours and minutes count.”
This new building marks the first time the Connecticut National Guard will maintain a presence in Putnam, and the Northeast region of the state, in fifteen years. The Guard had a presence in the region dating back to 1896 but eventually withdrew it after 2007 when the original Putnam Armory was declared excess and turned over to the town.
In a press release, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont explained the creation of the new Putnam Readiness Center is part of the state’s broader goal to maintain National Guard facilities in each of Connecticut’s eight counties so troops can be called upon quickly in the event of an emergency, such as a severe weather events and natural disasters. Currently, the closest National Guard presence to the Northeast Region is the facility in Rockville, which is more than thirty miles away.
Once this facility is completed, the Connecticut National Guard will also have a physical presence in each of the state’s five emergency planning and response regions, which are classified by the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
“As the frequency of severe weather events has grown over the last several years, so has the need to provide rapid and adequate emergency response,” Lamont said in the press release. “Establishing this readiness center in Putnam will provide the Connecticut National Guard with a base of operations in the Quiet Corner, where we’ve lacked this kind of facility for many years. As we’ve seen with the pandemic and many natural disasters, the National Guard is critical to our ability to respond to the needs of our state’s residents quickly and meaningfully. Whether it’s clearing storm damage or distributing supplies, the members of the Connecticut National Guard are good neighbors to have.”
Funding for the new facility comes from $6.5 million from the state and $21.5 million from federal military construction funding. Much of the federal funding was secured thanks to the hard work and dedication of Congressman Joe Courtney, representing Connecticut’s second congressional district and Senator Richard Blumenthal, both of whom are members of the Armed Services Committee of the House and Senate, respectively.
“It took consistent work to secure the resources, but there was no doubt that the CTARNG was in dire need of this new Readiness Center,” said Courtney in a Facebook post. “I was glad to work alongside Major General Evon to find a solution, and it really took a slate of bipartisan efforts to make it final.”
“We greatly appreciate the efforts of our state officials and our federal delegation to get this project designed and funded,” said Evon. “As we have seen over the past several years, the need for the National Guard to rapidly respond to weather and security events has increased dramatically, while we also continue to generate forces for deployment overseas in support of federal missions.”
The construction of the Readiness Center is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2025.