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Defense Media Activity Breaks Ground at Fort Meade

By Lisa R. Rhodes
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT MEADE, Md., , April 8, 2009 – With shovels in hand under a sunlit sky, federal, state and county officials, along with business and military personnel, broke ground on the Defense Media Activity’s new headquarters and production building here today.

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Federal, state and local officials ceremoniously break ground on the new Defense Media Activity headquarters and production building April 8, 2009, at Fort Meade, Md. From left: Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, Deputy District Commander of Baltimore District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Maj. John Raso, Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, DMA Director David Jackson, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Fort Meade Installation Commander Col. Daniel L. Thomas, Hensel Phelps Construction Company Vice President Steve Speer, and DMA Senior Enlisted Advisor Master Gunnery Sgt. Al Moore. Army photo by Nate Pesce
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The event marked “an important milestone” in the federal agency’s history, DMA Director David Jackson said.

Jackson spoke before the groundbreaking ceremony, held on the future DMA site, formerly part of Fort Meade’s golf course.

The creation of the new facility was a step in DMA’s “evolution to become a world-class multimedia and service organization,” Jackson said.

Noting that DMA will feature the latest innovations in media, information and digital technology, he said, “DMA is no longer just a concept. We are now up and running.”

Formally activated in October, DMA is the department’s direct line of communication for news and information to U.S. forces worldwide. The agency presents news, information and entertainment through media outlets, including radio, TV, Internet, print media and emerging media technologies. DMA services millions of servicemembers, reservists, civilian employees and military retirees and their families in the U.S. and abroad.

DMA was created by the 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act. The agency consolidates the Soldiers Media Center, Naval Media Center, the Marine Corps News, Air Force News Service and the American Forces Information Service into a single field activity. DMA also includes Stars and Stripes newspaper and the Defense Information School.

The state-of-the art, 185,000-square-foot headquarters building is being built by the Hensel Phelps Construction Company, which was awarded the $56 million contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month. Construction is slated to begin in May, said Steve Speer, Hensel Phelps vice president.

Speer said his company is committed to meeting DMA’s “expectation of quality and safety” in the construction of the new headquarters and production building.

The building is scheduled to be completed by May 2011, and more than 650 employees are to begin work there by August 2011.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown attended the groundbreaking as did U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, Fort Meade Garrison Commander Col. Daniel L. Thomas and several members of the garrison staff, National Security Agency and local government.

Brown, chairman of the governor’s subcabinet on BRAC, said the commitment of federal, state and local authorities made the day possible. “We’re well on our way to ensuring that BRAC is a success,” he said.

“It’s an exciting time to be here at Fort Meade,” said Ruppersberger, who called DMA “a more cost-effective one-stop shop.”

Thomas pledged the support of the garrison and the Fort Meade community in easing DMA’s transition from its three locations in the National Capital Region and San Antonio.

Army Maj. John Raso, deputy district commander of the Baltimore District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said it was both “challenging and exciting” to construct a 21st-century home for a 21st-century multimedia complex. Raso praised the work of HPCC in ensuring a solid foundation for DMA to “execute its vital mission.”

In addition to DMA, the Defense Information Systems Agency headquarters and the Adjudication and Office of Hearing and Appeals Offices are scheduled to be located at Fort Meade as a result of BRAC.

(Lisa R. Rhodes writes for the Soundoff! newspaper at Fort Meade, Md.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Media Activity Director David S. Jackson tells those gathered for the groundbreaking of DMA’s new headquarters and production building April 8, 2009, at Fort Meade, Md., that the agency serves troops in 177 countries, not to mention ships at sea and multitudes who watch its news on cable channels and Internet sites in the United States. Army photo by Gary Sheftick   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCongressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger speaks at the groundbreaking of the Defense Media Activity’s new headquarters and production facility April 8, 2009, at Fort Meade, Md. Army photo by Gary Sheftick   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAngeleque McDowney of the Defense Media Activity sings the National Anthem at the groundbreaking ceremony for DMA’s new headquarters and production building April 8, 2009, at Fort Meade, Md. Army photo by Gary Sheftick  
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