NAVAL STATION NEWPORT, R.I. - Muddy ground, thick fog and rainy skies couldn't keep guests away from the ground-breaking ceremony March 22 for the future Army Reserve Center here.

The event was hosted by Maj. Gen. William Monk III, commanding general of the Army Reserve's 99th Regional Support Command, headquartered at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

Guest speakers Sen. Jack Reed, U.S. senator from Rhode Island, and Navy Capt. Joe Voboril, commanding officer of Naval Station Newport, were joined by local military and civic leaders, along with friends of Naval Station Newport and the Army Reserve.

"I welcome all of you here today to be part of this very important ground breaking as we take another step in ensuring that our Warrior-Citizens have the best possible facilities in which to prepare to fight and win our nation's wars," Monk said to the crowd gathered at the future site of the new Army Reserve Center (ARC).

"Welcome aboard to the men and women of the 99th Regional Support Command," said Voboril. "I'm confident your Soldiers and Army civilians will feel right at home here."

Reed, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and former Army Ranger, thanked both military and civic leaders for their continuing dedication to making sure the nation's service members have the best facilities possible in which to train.

The ARC is scheduled to be home to more than 700 Army Reserve Soldiers in four units: 2nd Battle Command Training Group, 2nd Brigade, 75th Division; 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion; 1st Brigade (Military Intelligence), 100th Division (OS), 80th Training Command (TASS); and Detachment 1, 2nd Battalion, 417th Regiment, 4th BCT Brigade, 98th Division (IT), 108th Training Command.

"Consolidating these units here will allow the Army Reserve to close old, outdated facilities in Bristol, Providence and Warwick - a move that will save millions, and will allow the Department of Defense to focus those funds instead on maintaining and modernizing other facilities needed to better support our forces, recruit quality personnel, modernize equipment and infrastructure, and field the military forces needed to meet 21st-century threats," Monk explained.

"Being co-located with the Navy here at Naval Station Newport significantly complements this fiscal savings," Monk continued. "The added force protection gained by being on a military installation, the outstanding BASOPS and quality-of-life support that Naval Station Newport provides, and the opportunity to collaborate professionally with the Navy will enable the Army Reserve to provide the best possible training environment for our Warrior-Citizens."

Special guests at the event included Theodore Low, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for Rhode Island, Dennis Morgan, Army Reserve ambassador for Rhode Island, Jean-Marie Napolitano, Newport mayor, Ed Lavallee, Newport city manager, Chris Semonelli, president of the Middletown Town Council, Richard Chambra and Theresa Santos, Middletown Town Council members, Jody Sullivan, Chamber of Commerce, John Riendeau, Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, Ted Frazetta, project manager from the New England District of the Army Corps of Engineers, Frank Terak, vice president of Michael Baker Corporation, Kamlesh Patel, president of J&J Contracting, John Braley, vice president of J&J Contracting, members of the Navy League, Col. Rafael Torres, commander of 1st Brigade (Military Intelligence), Lt. Col. Mike Simino, commander of the 2nd Battle Command Training Group, and Lt. Col. John Anderson, commander of the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion and Detachment 1, 2nd Battalion, 417th Regiment.

The $11-million, 60,000-square-foot ARC, along with its accompanying 3.000-square-foot vehicle maintenance shop and 2,500-square-foot unheated storage building, will be located near Naval Station Newport's Gate 10. The new facility - a result of 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommendations - will provide Army Reserve Soldiers state-of-the-art training and maintenance facilities.

"This Reserve Center will be the only building built and operated by the Army on the Naval Station," Voboril said. "(It is) the final Base Realignment and Closure Commission 2005 construction project onboard the Naval Station."

The project was designed by Michael Baker Corporation, while construction is being handled by J&J Contractors, Inc. Design management was provided by the Louisville District of the Corps of Engineers (COE), while the New England District of the COE is conducting the construction management. The new ARC is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in the summer of 2011.