Third Army/U.S. Army Central began a historic step in its move from Fort McPherson to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C., as leaders from the 20th Fighter Wing, the 9th Air Force, the CIty of Sumter and Third Army broke ground for the unit's new command and control complex Aug. 17.
Third Army's headquarters complex is scheduled to open in September, 2011 and will include a command and control headquarters, a headquarters and headquarters company facility and a motor pool.
Lt. Gen. William G. Webster, Third Army commanding general, highlighted the importance of the move in the command's history.
"We are excited to begin a new chapter in our distinguished history with you here in South Carolina today," Webster said. "Third Army, when established on Shaw Air Force Base, will significantly add to the military missions and overall military presence in the Sumter community and in the state."
The commander of the 9th Air Force, Maj. Gen. William Holland, also emphasized the impact the move will have on current operations.
"USARCENT has a long and proud heritage," Holland said. "We look forward to our times ahead building a shared history here at Shaw. Combat experience from the Central Command area of responsibility has shown the absolute necessity of our services continuing to cooperate at all levels as a joint team. Co-locating our two headquarters at Shaw will further strengthen our partnership and interoperability. We are truly excited as we anticipate our future as one team, one mission and one community."
The move will bring more than 1,000 Soldiers, hundreds of Families and a new economic impact to Shaw and Sumter, Webster said.
Sumter's mayor, Joseph T. McElveen Jr., stressed the support and hospitality these Soldiers, Civilian employees and Families will receive from the local community.
"You are going to find in Sumter that we have spent 60 years or more trying to figure out ways to support Shaw Air Force Base," McElveen said. "You are going to find that the same folks who have been doing that for many years are going to do that for our Army brothers and sisters as well. Each time you need us, you can call on us. This community not only says it, we do it."
Before picking up a golden shovel to break ground and move Third Army into a new era, Webster took a moment to offer thanks.
"Today is not just about a shovelful of dirt, or a headquarters building, or a new neighbor; it is a significant and positive change in all our lives. We look forward to continuing our work with everyone here as we build our capacities together. We are thankful for the support of the Shaw and Sumter communities. Together, our people and their Families will build an even better team, working toward an even brighter future together," said Webster.