CAMP WILLIAMS, Salt Lake County — The Utah National Guard broke ground Tuesday for a $37 million, state-of-the-art Special Forces Readiness Center.
The 140,000-square-foot facility, funded by the federal government, will serve as the administrative building, classroom building, main training and operations space for the 19th Special Forces Group Headquarters and 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
The 19th Special Forces Group — one of the army's elite fighting forces — is spread out over nine states, but its headquarters at Camp Williams has become outdated, officials said.
"The unit has grown. Our equipment has grown," said Col. Larry Henry, commander of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
The center will bring critical operations under one roof, Henry said, with updated technology in a space designed for them.
"We train partner nations' forces,” he said of the group’s mission. “We help them provide for their own security, and that allows us to deploy less Americans.”
Currently, 19th Special Forces are deployed in Korea, Europe and the Middle East, and two teams just returned this week from Afghanistan. Teams typically deploy in 12-man detachments.
Because of their diversity of special skills, these soldiers — often referred to as the tip of the spear — are critical in the war on terror.
“It's being built because of this kind of unit. It's an elite unit," said Gen. Jeff Burton, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard. "For instance, in 2003, they were some of the first formations in Afghanistan and they've been there systematically for the last 16 years.”
The building, which has been in the works for the past 10 years, should be completed in December 2019.
Project architect Rolland T. Lee said his firm, Ridgeline Design Architects, was commissioned to design the building specific to the special forces’ needs, such as “more vault space to house their weaponry.”
"These men give so much to their country and to Utah,” said Lee, who spent a week at Harvard so he could emulate that classic American campus style and give the new building “more of a campus look and tie with the history of our country.”