BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - Offutt Air Force Base has had a hand in monitoring national security and nuclear capabilities since WWII. It has expanded and grown with the times, but aging infrastructure demands an upgrade.
A new, state-of-the-art facility will now play a role in every American's safety and security.
The new United States Strategic Command Headquarters will be housed just across from the current headquarters. It's being built because new developments in technology demands the military update what they currently have.
"Are we going to be able to maintain this and it is going to be worth the investment to rely on aging systems to do the most important missions that our country has for the nation?" Maj. Gen. Richard Evans III said.
The military has invested $1.3 billion in the state of the art facility where military and civilian personnel will command and control nuclear forces and monitor and enforce national security every second of the day.
Above ground is collaborative work spaces and modern common rooms meant to foster community and teamwork. Below ground it's much different.
The 'Battle Deck' will take over monitoring national security in the next year. Movie-sized screens run images of military personnel and technology. Glass separating two rooms can be turned into an opaque wall at the push of a button. Center seats and desks sectioned off with glass make it obvious where authority will take command.
"This building is purposely built to be the heartbeat of strategic deterrence for the nation for the next 50 years or so," Evans explained.
Before deciding to rebuild on Offutt, other locations were discussed as options. The air force base was chosen because of its central location in the country and already established communication.
The project has been more than 10 years in the making, and construction is nearly complete. There's still one key step to making the facility mission ready.
"Put all the systems in here that will allow us to accomplish the mission, to outfit the technology and really make it the facility that will command and control facility focused on the mission set," Evans said.
The new facility should be fully operational by the beginning of 2020.
Even with the old strategic command center next door, the transition from one building to the next without a lapse in surveillance will be a challenge.
"We have a very elaborate plan to test all of the systems over here, put them under stress, do exercise to make sure that when we actually tell the commander, 'You can move over here,' that we know the facility to be fully ready and be able to accept him," Evans said.
Once the move is complete, the old building will be turned over to Offutt for the base's use.