The impact of the U.S. Army’s new Cyber Command headquarters at Fort Gordon in Georgia is expected to have a major impact in Aiken and the surrounding area, according to state and local government officials.
On Monday, members of the Rotary Club of Aiken heard some facts and figures about just how big that effect will be from Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, commanding general of the Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon.
While speaking during the Rotary meeting at Newberry Hall, Hersey first talked about the changes that would be occurring at Fort Gordon.
“I will start out with the bottom line because that’s kind of a military thing,” Hersey said. “And my bottom line up front is that Fort Gordon is experiencing amazing growth in our population, in our infrastructure and in our responsibilities, not just for the U.S. Army but also for the Department of Defense.”
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Hersey has been in charge at Fort Gordon since June 2019.
“Over the next eight or nine years, there is going to be – based on the last running aggregate that I have – about $1.6 billion in infrastructure construction” on the Army base near Augusta,” Hersey said.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Cyber Command headquarters facility was held in November 2016.
Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Command, and his team are scheduled to “move down here in June” from Fort Belvoir in Virginia, Hersey said.
Construction at Fort Gordon is taking place in several phases and Hersey reported that there are plans for “a brand new state-of-the-art cyber school, a brand new signal school and an auditorium we can conduct events in.”
In addition, other projects will be completed.
The “overall transformation of Fort Gordon” will include “redoing a lot of the roads, getting environmental improvements done and renovating a lot of the buildings we want to continue to use,” Hersey said. “And then, of course, we are doing a demolition operation on a couple of the buildings that just aren’t sustainable over time. Those will be replaced with new buildings.”
Currently, a little more than 32,000 people work at Fort Gordon, and they have more than 20,000 family members.
Those numbers will be going up.
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In terms of personnel, the total will rise to somewhere between 35,000 and 37,000 “between now and 2028,” Hersey said, “and you can add family members on top of that.”
Also during that same time frame, Hersey said he expects Fort Gordon’s economic influence in the community to increase from an estimated $2.4 billion or so annually to “well over” $3 billion per year.
The number of military retirees in this area also will grow, Hersey said.
In January, the Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon entered into a formal agreement with the University of South Carolina (including USC Aiken), Clemson and some other schools in the Palmetto State to work together on workforce training and education.
“That is just the beginning," Hersey said.
USC Aiken, the Savannah River National Laboratory and the S.C. National Guard have teamed up to launch the DreamPort Cybersecurity Collaborative project.
“I’ve received, I think, one brief on that,” Hersey said. “I’m definitely interested in what they are doing. And I know there have been some conversations with some of the operational units and Guard units to be involved with that, but that’s about all I know about it right now. It’s definitely something that we are going to follow up on.”