U.S. Central Command on the Move, into New Headquarters

Major Gen. Karl Horst, CENTCOM chief of staff.

Twenty years ago, congress was ready to shut down MacDill Air Force Base. That was until the Base Realignment and Closure Committee (BRAC) got a look at the top-secret work being done by U.S. Central Command at the Tampa base, according to Congressman C. W. “Bill” Young, (R) of Pinellas County.

“They moved our F-16s to Luke Air Force Base, and they set up the process to close MacDill,” Young said.

But instead of cutting the ribbon on a new condominium or commercial center, Young and Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D) of Tampa were at MacDill Monday to dedicate the new 266,000 square foot CENTCOM headquarters. It’s building is proof, Young said, that MacDill is no longer in danger of being closed down.

The new, 266,000 square-foot CENTCOM headquarters.

The joint command, overseeing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has a staff of 2,000 who were previously housed in dozens of trailers, annexes and disconnected buildings. Coordinating that widely dispersed staff is the job of Major General Karl Horst, chief of staff at Central Command.

“When you live in a trailer park and you are sharing a cubicle with four other people, it doesn’t do a lot for morale when you know how important CENTCOM is and all of the missions you have,” Horst said. “So, I would tell you that this is a building that aligns quality of life commensurate with the level of U.S. Central Command has.”

The CENTCOM logo adorns a large carpet in the lobby of the new building that cost $75 million.

The new CENTCOM headquarters is a workplace to be proud of, Horst said. He said one quarter of it,  the entire second floor, is dedicated just to computer servers and switching units for their global communications network. It’s 13 feet above sea level to protect from hurricanes.

The building cost $75 million, but by the time parking and other finishing touches are included the price tag will be closer to $83 million.

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