FORT IRWIN, Calif.- In a sense Christmas came early for the National Training Center headquarters staff led by Fort Irwin/NTC Commanding General Brig. Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams on Thursday as a new headquarters building was unveiled to the public.

Since 1958 the NTC command staff had been headquartered with the Fort Irwin garrison command staff.

"This is a formal signal that we\'re transforming in how we think and how we run the National Training Center," Brig. Gen. Abrams told the crowd of about 50 people gathered for the event. "That's what this day is about."

In 1981 when the National Training Center was established and had its first training rotation in 1982 additional capability had to be built to operate it, he said.

"Since then we have continued to build on the great institution of the National Training Center," he said. "Today it is the world's finest training center, bar none, for units, joint, interagency, multinational, who are training to get ready to go fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is none better and all of you should take pride in that."

However, there hasn't been a commiserate investment in all the infrastructure to support its great training capability, he said.

Brig. Gen. Abrams said when he arrived he was surprised to find that our headquarters was dispersed across 14 different buildings across the main post.

"We've got great Americans on our great NTC staff, but there's something lost when we're not all working under one roof or at least as few roofs as possible to gain efficiency, effectiveness, synergy and improve our teamwork so that we can provide better support to all of you as we train the force," he said. "That's what the vision was."

That vision was handed over to a committee of dedicated professionals including NTC Chief of Staff Col. Joseph Wawro, NTC G-3 Sgt. Maj., Sgt. Maj. Jeff Loper and Mike Nichols, a Department of the Army civilian who works in the NTC G-3 Strategic Plans division, who made it happen, Brig. Gen. Abrams said.

"This is about bringing together a great team from 14 separate buildings across the installation. We're taking the staff from 14 to 7," he said. "Out of that 7, one of the Manning brothers could hit all four buildings from the parking lot. We'll have about 90 percent of the staff under those four roofs."

The opening of the new NTC headquarters building is also a great sign of being good stewards, because the garrison's not just going to expand and take that empty space, he said.

"This is the first major move to set the conditions so when the MCA (Military Construction Appropriation) money starts rolling in, in 2015 we'll be able to start tearing down 50-year-old buildings, temporary structures, and start building a first-class capability for all of our family and soldier support services across the installation," he said.

The No. 1 project is going to be a one-stop in-processing/out-processing center and a soldier and family support center, he added.

"Somebody had to move first to be able to be able to start creating the room to do that, and as I've always said we need to lead by personal example," Brig. Gen. Abrams said. "It was the right thing to do for the installation, so this also part of a long-term view for the National Training Center."

This mission of the National Training Center is not going away anytime soon, he said.

"It's a crown jewel for our defense department and we're going to be training forces here for many, many years," Brig. Gen. Abrams said before he, NTC Command Sgt. Maj., Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Martinez, Col. Wawro and Sgt. Maj. Loper cut the ribbon marking the official grand opening of the new NTC headquarters building.