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|The Augusta Chronicle|
By Rob Pavey
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 1:22 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 2:58 AM
One of the U.S. intelligence community’s newest and largest top-secret surveillance facilities is about to get even larger.
The National Security Agency and its Central Security Service will add 45,000 square feet to the 500,000-square-foot Whitelaw Wedge complex – part of the Regional Security Operations Center – completed last year at Fort Gordon.
According to an unclassified version of the fiscal 2012 Military Construction and Appropriations bill, an initial allocation of $11.3 million was enlarged, through a last-minute earmark, to $17.5 million.
More space is needed, according to budget documents, because “the capacity of the existing facility at the planned location will not meet anticipated mission requirements.”
Although its operations are largely secret, the NSA’s acknowledged missions include collecting and analyzing, through “clandestine” means when necessary, “intelligence information from foreign signals for intelligence and counterintelligence purposes and to support military operations.”
The $1 billion Fort Gordon facility, covering almost 160 acres, will employ as many as 4,000 military and civilian analysts, linguists and other personnel at peak operations. The existing facility, for which ground was broken in March 2007, has more than 2,400 parking spaces.
Its mission, as described in a Development Authority of Richmond County brochure, is to “conduct continuous security operations on selected targets in support of national and warfighter intelligence requirements from Fort Gordon, using remoting technologies.”
NSA spokesperson Vanee’ Vines, citing agency policy, could not elaborate on the specific uses for the added space but said the expansion will bring additional jobs during construction.
The National Security Agency, headquartered in Fort Meade, Md., is the intelligence service that monitors global communications for the U.S. government.
The agency also manages the government’s cryptological resources and is responsible for preventing foreign adversaries from accessing national security information.
Bid requests on government Web sites say the Fort Gordon addition can be “fast-tracked” to assure timely completion by September 2013, with construction scheduled to begin in February.