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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, August 20, 2001

Pacific headquarters goes high-tech

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Two towering cranes call attention to a spot next to U.S. Pacific Command headquarters at Camp Smith overlooking Halawa Valley.

The new Pacific Command headquarters is expected to cost about $152.5 million. The estimated cost includes the building, parking area, planning and development, operations, maintenance, new technology, equipment and security.

U.S. Pacific Command

What comes next will be far more impressive.

The new 274,500-square-foot Nimitz-MacArthur Pacific Command Center, under construction, will be a marvel of high-tech gadgetry ensconced in a six-story building of Hawaiian/Pacific Rim architecture recalling 1920s designs.

Because it is planned to incorporate the latest technology, the center is seen as a model military headquarters for the 21st century.

Outside, electronic security will be heightened; inside, plans call for a fiber-optic backbone and "virtual" multimedia visual equipment that will allow the commander in chief of Pacific forces, known as the CINCPAC, to better coordinate military efforts across more than half the Earth's surface.

Adm. Dennis Blair, U.S. commander for all forces in the Pacific region and Indian Ocean, said the Nimitz-MacArthur center will offer "cutting-edge information technology to lead the Pacific Command in an even surer, safer and more effective way." Blair's comments were posted on the command's Web site.

The new facility will also "provide a great working environment for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are the heart and soul of the staff," Blair said. About 1,200 service members are expected to work at the new command center.

According to Pacific Command figures, construction of the new center and parking lot is pegged at $86 million. Planning and development, operations and maintenance is calculated at $2.7 million. New technology, under the heading of "C4I," is expected to cost $50.3 million. There is also a $10 million equipment figure, and $3.5 million security cost, for a total project estimate of $152.5 million.

The center is named for World War II Pacific military leaders Navy Adm. Chester Nimitz and Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

The new headquarters will replace World War II-era buildings and serve as a base of operations for Pacific Command and Special Operations personnel. Marine Forces Pacific and other command support activities will use the existing headquarters.

Concrete portions of the older building will be retained, but sections built with wood are slated for demolition, officials said. The building, constructed in 1941, was first used as a 1,650-bed hospital. It was deactivated in 1949. Camp Smith became the headquarters for U.S. Pacific Command in 1957.

The move to the new facility is expected to take place in the fall of 2003. Construction started in April with excavation, and 240 concrete pilings now are being placed at bedrock level to serve as the foundation for the six-story building that soon will rise above Halawa Valley, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mark Cho, the transition task force deputy.

"From April until now, it's been very much in the beginning stage," Cho said.

Reach William Cole at 525-5459 or wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com.