Feb 03 2007

Arsenal says BRAC work still on track

Huntsville Times

By SHELBY G. SPIRES

 

Despite proposed cuts, Pillsbury says post will be ready

Redstone Arsenal leaders say their BRAC mission is plain - prepare the Army post for new military work by 2011 - even as Congress debates slashing the budget money needed for the planned Pentagon unit moves.

Maj. Gen. Jim Pillsbury, commander of the Army Aviation and Missile Command on Redstone, said Friday that, until he is told otherwise, "Our orders remain the same. We are working to make sure this post can accept" three Army commands, a recruiting brigade, missile defense and helicopter work slated to be moved to Redstone as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission process.         

About 4,700 jobs are expected to come here with the commands, and an estimated 5,000 new contractor jobs could follow.

The U.S. House voted Wednesday to slash $3 billion from a planned $5.6 billion in BRAC construction and relocation money when it approved a $463.5 billion spending bill that was left over from last year's budget debates.

Those cuts still have to be voted on by the Senate, and Alabama and other U.S. lawmakers have said the money probably would be included in a supplemental Pentagon budget.

"As far as I'm concerned, we have a job to do given to me by my boss, and that is to make sure Redstone Arsenal is prepared to accept the number of positions and the organizations that are coming here by 2011," Pillsbury said in his office Friday. "That's what we are going to do and what we are doing."

Pillsbury said he met with Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile; and U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, earlier this week in Washington, D.C., to discuss the plans for BRAC and new construction on Redstone.

"From those meetings, I'm satisfied that the same number of positions that have been advertised and the same organizations are coming here by 2011," Pillsbury said.

In late 2005, Congress and President Bush approved the BRAC panel recommendations. Those recommendations included relocating major commands from northern Virginia to Redstone, including the Army Materiel Command, the bulk of the Missile Defense Agency and the headquarters of the Army Space & Missile Defense Command.

The 2nd Recruiting Brigade is being moved from Fort Gillem in Atlanta, and helicopter work is slated to move from Fort Rucker and Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

Building and moving costs for those organizations are estimated at $651 million - $408 million for construction and $243 million to relocate - according to the latest Army figures. Another $500 million will be needed to build roads and improve water and sewer lines, elected officials have estimated.

Current preparation work means continual up-to-date planning for changes in the BRAC schedule and budget, said Col. John Olshefski, Redstone Garrison commander.

"The timeline is too important," Olshefski said Friday. "I have my people in my BRAC planning cell working out how we would meet any changes to budgets and other plans."

Olshefski said Redstone's planning for the BRAC moves is on schedule. Construction should start this summer on the headquarters building for the 2nd Recruiting Brigade, he said.

Construction on the Army Materiel Command headquarters is scheduled to begin in fall 2008, he said, and construction of a Missile Defense Agency office complex should get started around the same time.