Groundbreaking for new armed forces reserve center in Cedar Rapids - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Groundbreaking for new armed forces reserve center in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- Iowa lawmakers and soldiers broke ground Monday, for what will be the largest and most expensive military facility in the state, since Camp Dodge was built in World War II.

The new Cedar Rapids Armed Forces Reserve and Readiness Center will be home to units of both the Iowa National Guard, and United State Army Reserve.

With thousands of Iowa soldiers set to deploy for Afghanistan later this summer, Governor Chet Culver says these new readiness centers are becoming more important than ever.

"It will allow us to have a better-trained guard, we will have more modern 21st-century facilities, and I think it's really another sign of progress," said Governor Culver, who called the project another building block in creating a stronger infrastructure for Iowa soldiers.

Brigadier General Tim Orr says four units of the Iowa National Guard and five units of the U.S. Army Reserve will be stationed at this 133,000 square foot building. He told us that's a fairly new concept.

"In the past, each organization had their own distinct armories. These joint readiness centers are a way for us to combine our efforts; number one, to save taxpayer money and use it prudently, but more important, to build capacity and capability for our communities," said Orr.

Colonel Scott Ayres says the old model of an "armory," which usually has classrooms, offices, and a drill hall, is evolving into something more like a "community center."

"It also prepares a soldier for any impending deployments," Ayres explained.

Gen. Orr said once this facility is completed in 2011, it won't just serve as an armory, but as a core of resources for military families living in Eastern Iowa.

"They deserve, and their families deserve, a readiness center that can give the capability to continue their training and readiness."

This project will cost around $38 million, all federally funded.

Online Reporter: Brady Smith

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