Military Intelligence in Springfield?

Military Intelligence in Springfield?

National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency could move to Springfield, based on the BRAC commission recommendations.

A national intelligence agency may be calling Springfield home, based on the Department of Defense's May base realignment plan.

The National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency, a combat support agency with offices in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, is a prime candidate to move to the Engineer Proving Ground in Springfield, bringing with it nearly 9,000 employees.

Currently, the Department of the Army has the final say over how the land at the EPG is used, but with its 807 acres of open space, the land is a good target for both NGA and Fort Belvoir's plans.

"We want to be able to consider the Engineer Proving Ground in our planning. It's a good thing in a lot of different ways," said Richard Arndt, spokesman for Fort Belvoir. Under the May Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations from the Department of Defense, nearly 18,000 personnel would be transferred to Fort Belvoir by 2011. The largest percentage of those personnel, nearly 9,000 people, would be employees of NGA.

Security was the main reason the NGA was told it was put on the BRAC list.

"Right now, every one of our facilities has a major road we can't control close to the buildings themselves. That's the primary reason," said Dave Burpee, spokesman for the NGA. Burpee also said "synergy" would be another benefit of having all its East Coast employees in one facility.

"It allows us to coordinate and cooperate better," said Burpee.

For several years, the NGA has been examining the possibility of consolidating its offices in Washington, D.C.; Bethesda; Reston; Newington and Westfields. As recently as this spring, Burpee said the NGA was conducting a study that would have accomplished the same goals as the BRAC commission does.

"If (we) drop out of BRAC, we'll dust that plan off the shelf," said Burpee, who would not comment directly on the possibility of coming to the EPG.

"There's a lot of open space there," he said. According to Burpee, the NGA would need about 150 acres of land and 2.2 million square feet of office space to accommodate its employees. The NGA must vacate one of its major facilities, a leased office space in Washington, D.C. by Oct. 1, 2010. It would have until May 2011 to meet all BRAC requirements.

Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) said bringing the NGA to Springfield would be a "coup" for the community.

"Just as Langley and McLean have benefited from being situated with the CIA in their back yard, I think the NGA would be a good neighbor," he said.

AMID CONCERNS over increased congestion around the Route 1 corridor, Kauffman said the NGA would have minimal impact on traffic.

"The hours of their workforce aren't necessarily locked in with rush hour. They work on a 24-hour clock," he said. The EPG has been down-planned in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan to accommodate private sector development, but Kauffman said he would prefer to have a government agency like the NGA.

"Frankly, of all the different options, other than it remaining as it is today, the NGA option is far and away the best option for the community."

Arndt said Fort Belvoir's BRAC Implementation team is currently examining potential scenarios for its installation, and expected to complete its findings in mid-August.

Currently, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment has jurisdiction over any re-development at the EPG. Arndt said whether the NGA comes to the EPG or to Fort Belvoir, they will be ready.

"There is adequate space on Fort Belvoir to build a complex to accommodate a space that large, without using the EPG, if we had to," he said.