View Full Version : Lejeune Preps For Troop Expansion

Phantom Blooper
10-11-07, 05:22 AM
Lejeune preps for troop expansion


Though President George W. Bush in February approved a request to grow the Marine Corps from 175,000 to 202,000 by 2011, it is not clear exactly how many additional service members this area will see and what types of jobs they will be doing.

But one thing is certain: they are coming.

State and military officials are expected to release more details Friday about the increase and how it will impact this community, but work has already begun to accommodate some of the additional troops and their families.

Camp Lejeune officials are looking at the infrastructure and support facilities they'll need to equip, train and house the additional Marines, said Maj. Nat Fahy, spokesman for Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Installations East.

MCI East - which includes Camp Lejeune and air stations in Cherry Point, New River and Beaufort, S.C. - will see about $78 million this year to start building trailers, pre-engineered buildings and portable armories to meet the short-term demand, Fahy said.

Camp Lejeune will receive $124 million for seven projects - a battalion operations complex, a 400-person bachelor enlisted quarters, an addition to the explosive ordnance disposal building, a mess hall, a military police company operations complex, additions to the regimental headquarters and a truck company operations complex, Fahy said.

Congress has not yet approved the $43 million for a second battalion operations complex, he said.

However, the first real opportunity to build permanent facilities for the new Marines will be in fiscal year 2010 and beyond, Fahy said.

Many buildings approved before the expansion announcement are already on their way to completion - including new bachelor enlisted quarters. And a new Marine Corps Special Operations Command facility at Stone Bay rifle range - also not part of the Corps' expansion - is going up now.

The finished facility will include administration, operational, training and housing facilities to support the 1,950 MarSOC Marines to be stationed at Stone Bay, Fahy said.

The Naval Hospital also has started planning for the "plus up." Some renovations are under way now, and a renovation and expansion project expected to grow the hospital by more than 30 percent is slated to start in 2010, hospital officials said.

The construction will double the size of the emergency room, increase the clinic area and generally make better use of the available space, said Capt. Mark Olesen, the hospital's commanding officer.

Nearly every department will grow to meet the expansion, said Lt. j.g. Mitchelle Ortiz, a facility engineer. The hospital also is working with base planners to determine where clinics and other services may be needed, Ortiz said.

Marine Corps Community Services officials also are working with planners to predict where to build new facilities and add new services. MCCS is creating a master plan to ensure there are enough fitness centers, recreation areas and other facilities to support the new Marines and their families, said Wayne West, deputy director of Camp Lejeune MCCS.

The increase to the Marine Corps is not related to the recent troop surge in Iraq, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said in a message to all Marines in February. It also is unrelated to base realignments and closures.

"The current operational tempo of the long war has resulted in strain on our Marines and on our Corps as an institution," Conway said. "While the morale of our Marines remains high, I am nevertheless concerned with the stress of multiple deployments on our Marines and their families."

Contact Jennifer Hlad at jhlad@freedomenc.com or 353-1171, ext. 8467. To comment on this story, visit www.jdnews.com (http://www.jdnews.com)