By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., April 1, 2013 – In the movie, “Field of Dreams,” a Midwestern farmer built a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield, convinced that if he did so, the old-time ball players would come.
The exact opposite happened here at U.S. Strategic Command, where new missions and the technologies to support them came one after another before the shovel ever hit the dirt to make way for them.
Today, Stratcom is bursting from the seams in a headquarters building built in the mid-1950s to accommodate telephones and grease boards, but challenged to deliver 21st-century capabilities that demand state-of-the-art technology systems, Kenneth Calicutt, director of the command’s Resources and Integration and Program Management Office, told American Forces Press Service.
Peek under the ceiling tiles or beneath the floorboards at the Curtis E. LeMay Building, he observes, and you’ll find a riot of multicolored wires, all added over the decades to accommodate new technologies as they were introduced.
Meanwhile, Stratcom’s historic mission, nuclear defense, expanded to include new responsibilities: space, cyber space, missile defense and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance, among them. All required their own supporting systems and technologies that were incorporated into the headquarters building.
“The infrastructure from the 1950s doesn’t support the global problems we’ve been tasked to support,” Calicutt said. “In today’s world, global planning and global overwatch is primarily communications-driven, but the command’s infrastructure was never set up to accommodate.”
So just across the street, in the middle of what was once Offutt Air Force Base’s golf course, a new Stratcom command-and-control complex is slowly taking shape. Ground was broken for the new facility in October, with Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Stratcom’s commander, heralding a new milestone in the command’s history.
“The capabilities this facility will provide put us on a path to the future — a future that secures America and our allies from information-age threats with information-age systems and capabilities,” Kehler told participants at the ceremony.
The new, nearly 1 million-square-foot facility, expected to be completed in 2016 and move-in ready by 2018, will transform the way Stratcom operates, said Robert Madden, e program coordinator for the new facility.
Because its networks are being designed from the ground up, they’ll operate as complementary, rather than stove-piped and often competing systems, he said. Meanwhile, the facility will provide redundancies not available in the current headquarters because the systems were never designed to back up each other.
“This building is an opportunity for us to sort all that out so we can operate more efficiently,” Madden said.
That will have a major impact on Stratcom’s ability to plan and execute its missions, Calicutt said, enabling leaders to better leverage technology to increase their situational and operational awareness.
“Today’s missions require much better information, but you can’t use that better information if you don’t have the [information technology] infrastructure to support it,” he said. “The new command and control complex will provide that infrastructure that is truly the foundation of this command as we plan and conduct missions that require us to be ready to execute on a moment’s notice — 24/7/365, every minute of every hour of every day.”
The Air Force is funding the project, with the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of construction. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific is responsible for the information technology systems engineering.
“So this is definitely a joint effort here: an Air Force project being constructed by an Army organization and outfitted by a Navy organization,” Madden said. “And when it’s completed, all will benefit from the increased capability it provides.”