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Special Forces human performance facility construction underway at Fort Bragg

A sign at one of the entrances to Fort Bragg. (Fish Cop./WikiCommons)

Construction is now underway for the final building that is part of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School campus on Fort Bragg.

The dirt turned April 16 for the center’s 90,000-square-foot Human Performance Force Generation facility, which is expected to be completed in 2023.

The facility, located on a block bordered by Ardennes Street and Gruber, Reilly and Zabitosky roads, is part of the $156.7 million construction of four buildings that past leaders said will resemble a college campus.

The construction of the $43 million, multi-story facility is being overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District.

Engineers have been involved in the overall construction of the campus since 2011.

The latest building will serve soldiers honing their skills of “strength, body and mind,” said Col. Jason Kelly, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers South Atlantic Division.

“I’ve actually asked our team to start thinking about instead of a date that the contract ends or the date that we’re going to hand the keys, I think we should think about the day that the first soldier is going to go through that facility,” Kelly said.

He said he wants those constructing the building to envision who will use it.

“Many of the men and women who will go through those doors will be the men and the women who will be on the frontlines of whatever conflict is next,” Kelly said.

He said it’s an investment to train “the best” soldiers at the “best” facilities.

The building is a representation of making soldiers better, whether it’s physically or mentally stronger and helping to prevent injuries, said Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, the center’s current commander.

“When you think about human performance, we’re really about humans,” Roberson said. “The (Special Operation Forces) imperative is humans are our No. 1 priority; and helping to create or make people better — whether it’s physically, mentally, morally, spiritually —we’re trying to do those things.”

Col. Joshe Raetz, commander of the 2nd Special Warfare Training Group, said one of the Special Operation Forces “truths” is “the human is more important than the hardware,” and that “defenders of freedom must value a strong mind, body, sound body and an unbreakable spirit.” That will be the focus of the new Human Performance Force Generation center.

Special Operation Forces have been at the forefront of the Global War on Terror since 9/11, Raetz said.

Eight years into the war, “visionaries” recognized the importance of investing in the long-term health of the force in a holistic manner, he said.

The Tactical Human Optimization Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning program — called THOR3 — that was created in 2010 as a strength and conditioning program has evolved into a holistic program with physical therapists, dieticians, cognitive coaches and interpersonal experts, Raetz said.

That holistic approach integrates four parts of the human domain — the physiological, interpersonal, intrapersonal and cognitive, said Jim Arp, deputy director for human development for the center.

An example, he said, is mentally challenging soldiers to solve problems, while they’re also undergoing physical training and battling exhaustion.

“You’re having to react to circumstances that require you to — while you’re physically exerted — to use your mental facilities to make sound judgments or decisions,” he said. “Simultaneously, you got to be able to communicate with your team, so that’s where the interpersonal side comes in.”

Arp said soldiers will be evaluated, from the time they enter the special forces qualifications pipeline, to when they’re with operational forces and returning from deployments.

“The idea is we’re going to be able to tailor our training and our care of these soldiers across their career, so that we optimize their ability to perform, but we also take care of them as a total person,” Arp said, referring to the Special Operations Forces operator as “the most important asset.”

The human performance facility, Raetz said, will house expert trainers, counselors and researchers, enabled by the latest training methods including simulations, augmented and virtual reality, and biometric and neurological sensors.

Arp said there will be nonclinical performance coaches, behavioral health clinicians, strength and conditioning coaches, and physical therapists, nutritionists and a synthetic training environment.

Soldiers will be taught how to interact with others, conflict resolution and negotiations, how to read verbal and nonverbal skills and how to be adaptable and resilient.

“The people that we train, they’re here today. Next week, they could be anywhere in the world,” Arp said.

As soon as soldiers walk into the building, they’ll see 40,000 square feet of workout space, Arp said.

There will be classrooms for synthetic training, a physical therapy room, a performance nutrition area to prepare meals, clinical space, and areas for family counseling or financial classes.

“If we wanted to teach a soldier how to be a high performer and work best in those mental, physical, interpersonal and intrapersonal domains, everything he or she needs is right in this building,” Arp said.

Kelly said the construction of the building is a partnership between the Special Operations community, Corps of Engineers, Fort Bragg garrison, acquisition professionals, architects, engineers and contractors.

He said companies like Clark Nexsen and ACC Construction are critical to the build.

Kelly said that as unforeseen challenges arise during construction, it’s the strength of partnerships that will overcome the obstacles.

“We will deliver the facility our special operations teammates deserve,” he said.

Raetz said that once the building is completed, there will be partnerships with industries, professional sports and academia to bring the latest technologies and innovations to enhance special operation forces.

There will be close work with the Army Resilience Directorate, Army Holistic Human Fitness program and U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Raetz said.

“As we learn and develop, we will eagerly export our performance techniques across (special operations forces) the Army and the Joint Force,” he said.

“Today we break ground on a foundation, both physical and spiritual, for the continued success, health and well being of our special operations soldiers for generations to come.”


(c) 2021 The Fayetteville Observer

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