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(Enlarge) The Defense Information Systems Agency, photographed in August, will begin its move to Fort Meade beginning January. The facility will have more than 1 million square feet of space to house 4,300 people. (File Photo)

The deadline is rapidly approaching for organizations to move to Fort Meade as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process, but those BRAC moves are just part of Fort Meade's transformation.

Already the largest employer in Maryland, BRAC will bring an additional 5,700 people to Fort Meade by the end of fiscal year 2011.

"This area of the country has been a growth area for a number of years," said Bert Rice, director of transformation on Fort Meade. "It has an impact on education, medical, infrastructure and workforce development."

Rice, who said he has seen the post change since he was first stationed here in 1979, has been involved in some way with each of the five BRAC processes since the first in 1988.

"Each of the BRACs, including the one we are under now, did something to Fort Meade," Rice said. "They brought over the building that we now know as the Office of Personnel Management during a BRAC. They brought in the Defense Information School as a result of one of the BRACs. And, of course, this BRAC is the largest of those that I am familiar with."

Fort Meade first learned of this round of BRAC in 2003, Rice said. Leaders have been preparing since -- even before the legislation was passed.

"When we learned of the type of agencies that were coming to Fort Meade, it seemed to make sense," Rice said of the links between the organizations and the ones already located here.

The largest agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency, will have space for 4,300 employees at its newly constructed Fort Meade headquarters.

DISA is responsible for DoD information technology and communications support to combatant commands, military services, the secretary of defense and to the president, according to DISA spokesperson Laura Williams.

About half of DISA's workforce of more than 7,000 people will be based at the new facility, the largest office complex in Anne Arundel County.

"We will begin moving into the new building in January," Williams said. "We are very excited."

While the relocation of DISA is the largest project in Fort Meade's transformation, the Defense Media Agency is also gearing up to move into its new headquarters by next spring.

DMA is the DoD direct line of communication for news and information to U.S. forces worldwide, said DMA spokesperson Patricia Flynt. The agency, formed in October 2008, consolidates the Soldiers Media Center, Naval Media Center, Marine Corps News, Air Force News Service and American Forces Information Service into a single field activity.

The Defense Information School, which has been located on Fort Meade since it relocated from Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana in 1995, is a DMA subordinate command, Rice said. The school has trained more than 3,200 students annually in photojournalism, graphic design and public affairs since its arrival.

DINFOS will increase the size of its building by one-third and expand the annual student capacity to 4,000 students in growth unrelated to BRAC, Flynt said. DMA will have more than 1,000 employees at its 176,000-square-foot facility by the end of the relocation and growth period.

DMA also includes Stars and Stripes, which provides independent news and information to the military community.

The third major activity opening its doors as part of the BRAC process is the Co-location of Defense and Military Adjudication Activities, which combines 10 government agencies that adjudicate, or determine security clearance for DoD and government employees. More than 750 people will join the Adjudication workforce in a new 152,000-square-foot headquarters beginning next summer.

"We already had elements that conduct adjudication activities here, so the co-location here also made sense," Rice said.

Editor's note: This is the first in an ongoing series of articles that will focus on installation growth and transformation, to inform the Fort Meade community regarding ongoing developments at Fort Meade.

Information is available at the Fort Meade Growth website, at http://www.ftmeade.army.mil/pages/growth/growth.html.

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