Friday, December 15, 2006

"Sweet Tea"

According to an article in this week’s Metro Spirit, the The Army Corps of Engineers (Savannah District) awarded a $286 million contract to Phelps/Kiewit Joint Venture to build a brand new NSA facility in Augusta, Georgia. The site is Fort Gordon, a city already unto itself, and home to the Signal Corps and Signal Center, “the largest communications-electronics facility in the free world.” The installation covers 56,000 acres in eastern Georgia, and provides training, doctrine, force integration and mobilization for all Signal Regiment military and Department of the Army civilian personnel.

[Image: A hazy drawing of Fort Gordon, found via the recent article Out of thin air in the Metro Spirit, Dec. 14 issue 2006.]

Dubbed Sweat Tea, the National Security Agency, we learn, is building “a massive new operations facility […] complete with all the amenities: a workout room, nursing areas, a mini-shopping center, a credit union, an 800-seat cafeteria and thousands of exclusive parking spaces.” Even more so, “it will include a new shredder facility (for all those classified documents) and an antenna farm (to help listen in on enemy combatants like Osama bin Laden and Princess Di).”

[Image: Old footage from the Willard Training area, Fort Gordon, Georgia, found on this army site.]

Corey Pein wrote a fantastic article about the project, the secrecy of course surrounding its development, and how ironic it was that the project was only just announced after he and his fellow reporters went poking their noses into it. He writes, “According to unclassified NSA documents obtained by the Metro Spirit, the project will relocate all existing antennas to the southern end of the new site. The location provides the perfect look angles with no possibility for encroachment to their required line-of-sight in the future.” Furthermore:
The project also includes a new 7,600-square-foot Visitor Control Center, thousands of additional square feet for warehouses, a vehicle inspection facility, modular training spaces and modular workspace for the growing Navy contingent at NSA-Georgia.

The plans will also force some adaptations to existing facilities. The primary entrance to Back Hall, the socalled compartmented information facility on Chamberlain Avenue and 25th Street, will change to what is now the rear entrance.

The document, according to Pein, also says the main new structure, a 525,000- square-foot Regional Security Operations Center, should be complete by May 2010. And, apparently, a military source familiar with cost analysis told the Metro Spirit that the facilities may, in actuality, wind up costing more than $1 billion.

For background on the contractors: “Phelps appears to be part of Hensel Phelps Construction, which, four days after the 9/11 attacks, won the rebuilding contract for the Pentagon. It was worth up to $758 million. Kiewit is not as high-profile. In 2002, one of the company’s divisions won a $15 million contract to build a vehicle maintenance facility at Fort Gordon. Both companies are based in the military contracting mecca of Virginia.”

Now that I have all but re-posted the article in its entirely here, you should go read it for yourself. Pretty interesting talk goes on about black sites and intelligence budgets, and the sort of typical mystery that looms over how the project came to be revealed.

Also, check out these earlier NSA posts:; Mt. Seemore and the watchful gaze.

(via Defense Tech > Metro Spirit national security blog)


Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

There are good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armaments”

The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be - Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey rosecovered...

thanks for your comment. i agree with plenty of what you said. it is beyond the power of any single president, or cabinet, or adminstration. it is beyond the reversal of any single decade of history. the infrastructure of the war machine entrenched in our political system, our economic foundation, even our culture and society, makes one believe that almost a total collapse and rebulding of the american project will be the only thing to attempt recallibrating the pistons and profits of war.

i haven't had a chance to check out your blog or the “Odyssey of Armaments”, but be sure i will.

I will say - while no one prsident can be expected to "undo" the war machine from its hold on our government - or the world for that matter, i certainly don't like seeing a president who is backed by the engineers of this war machine playing out his cards from his lofty position, greasing the cogs evermore, retooling the whole thing for greater profitable efficiency. this prez is the poster boy for the war machine, where the policymaking that normally runs under the radar has so pitifully run rampant that it surfaces now, shameless with no room left to hide, and just usurps power.

that's the difference between this president and the one who seeks to play according to the alternatives. big difference. and one that makes all the difference in the world.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God I don't know how you could know so much about this building I was in construction of this building and didn't know all of this!!

7:51 AM  

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