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Colo. National Guard opens new training facilities

By Staff Sgt. Aimee J. Felix Zentkovich | Colorado National Guard | March 8, 2015

Fort Carson, Colorado —

FORT CARSON, Colo. – The Colorado Army National Guard marked the completion of the largest construction project in its history March 8, during an opening ceremony for two COARNG training facilities on Fort Carson.  

In stark contrast to the converted prison that formerly housed the Regional Training Institute, the new RTI and the Training Center Complex offer more than 300,000 square feet of state-of-the-art training accommodations.  

"[Training] was executed exceptionally well in the old facilities … under the tutelage of our outstanding staff," said Army Col. Jesse Morehouse, 168th RTI commander. However, he added, "this new facility will ensure today's leaders achieve even more than those in the past." 

The opening of these two facilities is the culmination of a vision that began a quarter of a century ago. The vision began when the Colorado National Guard leadership at the time identified inadequacies in the training facilities and set out to secure resources to improve the facilities, said Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, the Adjutant General of Colorado.

The RTI and TCC were the two final phases of the Centennial Training Site, a 160-acre COARNG enclave on Fort Carson that the state leases from the federal government. The first phase of the CTS was the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site, which was completed in 2003. It provides equipment, and vehicle storage and maintenance for Soldiers training at the CTS facilities.

The CTS is essentially self-sustaining, said Army Maj. Robert J. Weeks, the 168th RTI Administrative Officer. Soldiers can maintain their equipment, as well as be housed, fed, and trained – all within the same general vicinity, as the site is located near Fort Carson's training ranges.

"The land around the buildings offers current and future opportunities to train on a variety of individual and collective tasks without any transportation or other logistics issues," Morehouse said.

The 168th RTI, which is approximately 150,000 square feet and cost $55 million to build, provides officer and non-commissioned officer education to more than 2,000 Soldiers annually. Additionally, it is the first Warrior Leaders Course with permanently assigned instructors and cadre from all three components of the Army – National Guard, active duty, and Army Reserve. 

Since construction began in November 2011, as many as 1,300 people were employed as part of the overall design and construction of the project. The facility will continue to provide full-time employment to nearly 60 service members.

The new RTI building can accommodate regional and national level conferences, and training events. It houses several multi-media classrooms, an auditorium, dining facility, 219 barracks rooms, storage areas, locker rooms, administrative offices and physical fitness areas.

The TCC, which is approximately 185,000 square feet and cost $47 million to build and will provide year-round training support to all components of the military, as well as state and federal agencies. Additionally, the new facility can support about 500 people at one time.

"These state-of-the-art facilities are critical for building efficient and effective leaders, who will lead troops in future combat or domestic operations," Edwards said. 

Since construction of this facility began in December 2012, as many as 1,050 people were employed as part of the overall design and construction of the project. 

The TCC includes several multi-media classrooms, a dining facility, storage areas, weapons vaults, administrative offices, billeting for 500 people, and simulated firearms training equipment.

Both buildings are on track to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver ratings, fully certified through the U.S. Green Building Council.