AFNWC holds ribbon cutting, breaks ground on new building

  • Published
  • By Ryan Stark
  • Nucleus writer
Two phases of expansion for the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center's headquarters at Kirtland were inaugurated Monday with a ribbon cutting and a ceremonial groundbreaking.

The ribbon cutting was for the recently completed "phase one" of the expansion, a $29 million, 56,000-square-foot workspace that will soon serve as the workplace for 350 people. It will house the AFNWC's Sustainment and Technical Integration Center and members of the Nuclear Technology and Interagency Directorate.

Phase two already has exterior walls, which provided the backdrop for Monday's ceremony. That is a $21 million, 70,000-square-foot facility to be completed by late 2016 or early 2017.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, who was on hand for the ribbon cutting and groundbreaking, said the importance of the work going on at AFNWC headquarters can't be overstated.

"There is no mission more critical to our nation's security than nuclear sustainment," he said. "I'm proud that our Airmen and civilians who work here will be doing so in a 21st-century facility."

Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Commander Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan said the importance of the work was signified when Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski visited Kirtland in June. Pawlikowski chose Kirtland for her first site visit after taking command of Air Force Materiel Command.

"(Pawlikowski) reminded us that the Nuclear Weapons Center and Kirtland are at the center of the nuclear enterprise," she said. "This is a no-fail mission and one that we take seriously."

Once complete, the expanded headquarters building will bring all of the center's Kirtland personnel under one roof, Finan said. They are currently working at buildings across the base.

In addition to Heinrich and Finan, dozens of Kirtland and Albuquerque dignitaries were in attendance, including Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander Maj. Gen. Matthew Molloy, New Mexico National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Andrew Salas, 377th Air Base Wing Commander Col. Eric Froehlich and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Albuquerque District Commander Lt. Col. Patrick Dagon.

"It has been a great opportunity for the Army and the Air Force to continue to build a strong relationship," Dagon said. "Teamwork has been a critical part of phase one and will continue to be for phase two."

The Corps of Engineers is the managing agency for both phases while K.L. House Construction Co. of Albuquerque is the contractor. The project also involves numerous subcontractors.

Civilian attendees at the ceremony included incoming Sandia National Laboratories Director Jill Hruby, Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce President Terri Cole and Roger Newall, veteran's affairs liaison for Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry.