FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Post leadership broke ground for the Fort Sam Houston telephone core communications switch node facility May 22 on Garden Avenue.

Col. Wendy Martinson, U.S. Army Garrison commander, hosted the groundbreaking ceremony.

"The amount of construction on Fort Sam Houston is simply amazing - and we are just getting started," said Martinson.

The new telephone switch node, part of the Base Realignment and Closure initiative, will expand the telephone and data capabilities at Fort Sam Houston by adding more than 10,000 lines.

The current telephone infrastructure supports 33,000 lines. The addition of the new switch will initially increase capabilities by 6,720 lines to support the transformation activities occurring on Fort Sam Houston.

"This facility will be the node for all of the new Medical Educational Training Center instructional facilities, the dormitories, the dining facility, the METC headquarters, two barracks for the 32nd Medical Brigade and much more," said Martinson.

The new node will be located in the vicinity of the new METC campus to provide service for the campus as well as other transformation projects. It will provide the capability to swing telephone lines from overused or expanded areas into the new facility.

Once completed, the telephone switch node will provide telephone and data service for the entire area between Schofield Road, Hardee Road and Scott Road, including Buildings 2840 and 2841; as well as the Army Medical Department Center and School.

The new switch node will also allow Fort Sam Houston to upgrade the entire garrison telephone system to support an enhanced 911 emergency communications capability, expand the current voicemail system and add a state-of-the-art Telephone Management System.

Martinson commented on the fact that communication is really a very simple principle - you have a sender and you have a receiver. That has not changed since man first started painting on cave walls.

But, what is incredible is how communication has improved, she said.

"We now communicate in seconds and minutes around the world ... we perform surgery on battlefields and we teach our Soldiers in remote locations while they are performing battlefield missions or helping people during humanitarian missions," said Martinson.

"All this because of our communication technologies," the colonel continued.

Martinson congratulated Hal Marsh and the Directorate of Information Management workforce on managing the burden while executing the mission.

"I know you are all dedicated to the burden of the communications missions that at times seems heavier than we can manage and we all appreciate the services you provide that we cannot do without, said Martinson in closing.

The contract for the new telephone core communications switch node was awarded March 14 to General Dynamics Information Technology. Oversight and management of the project will be provided by Project Management Defense Communications and Switched Systems.