LEGHORN ARMY DEPOT, CAMP DARBY, ITALY - The future has a sound. It's the roar of a bulldozer, the clang of steel on steel, the barking command of a foreman.

The future has a sight. It's the sparking of welding projects, the gaping frame of new buildings, the dangling web of electrical wires.

The future of the 3rd Battalion of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade at Leghorn Army Depot on Camp Darby, Italy, has arrived. It's being built from 5,565 tons of steel, 35,000 cubic meters of concrete, 10 kilometers of electrical conduits, more than 16 kilometers of piping, and involves the movement of 220,000 cubic meters of earth. This construction project, worth more than 39 million euros and utilizing funds from two fiscal years, is on schedule and will have a tremendous positive impact on 3rd Battalion operations.

"The new facility will accelerate the battalion into the 21st century with state-of-the-art maintenance and storage capability in support of the Department of the Army's vision of Army Prepositioned Stocks," said Lt. Col. Harvey Robinson, commander of the 3rd Battalion. "As the Army transforms, the capability and capacity of this battalion is transforming as well, thanks in large part to the military construction authority facility, which will make the 3/405th a major player with huge maintenance and power projection capabilities."

The construction project includes a vast array of buildings, each supporting a unique mission. Included in the project are a new headquarters building, a maintenance operations facility and warehouses. Combined with other buildings, the project encompasses more than 6,700 square meters of enclosed space.

"The new facilities will make the battalion a more streamlined operation, co-locating all maintenance activities into one building," Robinson explained. "The new facilities will ensure our workers are provided a safe and environmentally friendly working environment, and the project will make maintenance and warehousing operations much more efficient due to proper equipment that will support the mission more effectively."

Additionally, seven controlled humidity warehouses are being built, each with 5,000 square meters of space for a total of 35,000 square meters of warehouses that will be used to store military equipment. The warehouses are particularly impressive as they are custom-designed for the needs of the 3rd Battalion's mission.

"One warehouse has been constructed with a strengthened concrete floor for heavy track vehicle storage, and one has been designed with taller dimensions allowing for the storage of containers stacked three high," said Linda Eckley, project engineer for the 3rd Battalion, who also serves as the battalion's chief information office, S-6, chief. "Supporting facilities include underground electrical service, underground communications service,....(and) concrete surfaced roads to provide access for heavy tracked vehicles...."

Furthermore, the new warehouses will be free from supporting columns in the center of the facilities, allowing for the center of the facility to remain open and free of obstructions, a huge asset when moving large pieces of military equipment, including massive tracked vehicles.

The new facilities at 3rd Battalion are long overdue.

"Our existing facilities, originally constructed in the 1950s, have never had a major renovation," Robinson stated. "Temporary clamshell shelters have been used to support vehicle maintenance and preservation due to the current limitations of permanent existing facilities. Administrative and technical support facilities are seriously inadequate or non-existent, and existing inhabited facilities do not meet current minimum seismic standards, leaving them susceptible to damage."

This construction project will propel the 3rd Battalion into an even stronger position of support to the Soldier.

"With the completion of the project, our storage capabilities and supporting storage facilities have improved greatly, which, in turn, protects and sustains military assets at a more acceptable level," said Robinson.

The immense construction project, which not only includes buildings for the 3rd Battalion, but also facilities such as mechanical, electrical and water pump stations that will fall under the control of Camp Darby's Department of Public Works and garrison command, should be completed by the end of the fiscal year. The completion of the buildings, however, is not the last step in the construction process.

Once each of the buildings is finished, "...we will begin working with our contractors on installation, testing and training of collateral equipment and shelving units.... While we are executing transition, the contractor will continue with a small work force on unfinished small projects such as ground clearing and vegetation planting, fence repair and removal, (and) minor maintenance work within the facilities," Eckley said.

With the new facilities nearly complete, the battalion is anxious to continue its service to the Soldier. The future of 3rd Battalion is bright, and it will benefit our Soldiers.