SANDSTON, Va. –
The Virginia National Guard will close its readiness center in Chatham, Virginia, according to an announcement made Feb. 4, 2016, by Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. The unit and approximately 40 Soldiers currently stationed there will relocate to the readiness center in nearby Danville beginning in March 2016. Williams and senior Guard leaders met with local officials to explain the decision and answer questions about the planned closure.
“It is with a heavy heart that we made the decision to close our facility in Chatham,” Williams said. “The community has been incredibly supportive of our Soldiers for decades, and many of our men and women in uniform spent a large part of their career conducting monthly drills there. But the fiscal realities we face make it necessary to consolidate as much as we can to regional facilities, so moving these Soldiers and their equipment to Danville just made sense. We can’t thank the community of Chatham and Pittsylvania County enough for everything they have done for their Soldiers and their families, and I want every citizen to know that the Guard will still be there for them if the Governor calls us to duty to respond to a situation in the area.”
The readiness center, also known as an armory, most recently served as the home station for Detachment 2, Company A, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Soldiers used the facility to conduct training and park equipment, and they could stage there if needed for civil support operations. They often conducted their training and staging operations at the company’s main location in South Boston.
Company A provides distribution of fuel, ammunition, water and other supply items as well as having capabilities for water purification for the approximately 3,600 Soldiers of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the largest major subordinate command in the Virginia National Guard. The 116th has units stationed at readiness centers throughout the state.
According to Lt. Col. Charlton Dunn, facility management officer for the Virginia National Guard, the closing of the facility in Chatham is a result of the Readiness Center Transformation Master Plan. As part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, the Congressional Armed Services Committee issued Congressional Directive 111-201 initiating a study on National Guard Readiness Centers. The resulting RCTMP recognized that the current situation with a large number of small facilities at dispersed locations was fiscally challenging and did not fully support current and future mission requirements. The plan recommended consolidating into regional facilities to more efficiently support the mission and reduce facility and operational costs paid by taxpayers, Dunn said.
As Virginia Army National Guard leaders worked to implement the recommendations of the RCTMP, they identified a number of priorities critical to Guard operations, including travel distances for Soldiers and facility space adequacy, as well as mission support capacity, facility capabilities and fiscal efficiency. Given the close proximity to Danville, closing the Chatham facility was a logical decision, Dunn said.
The readiness center is approximately 10,600 square feet located on 3.5 acres of land. In accordance with the Cost-Share Agreement originally signed in 1954, and amended in 1985, the routine maintenance, repair and operational costs are paid by the County of Pittsylvania with a 25% reimbursement from the Virginia National Guard, Dunn said. The 25% reimbursement is funded 50% state funds and 50% federal funds.
Dunn said that in 2015, total expenses for the facility were approximately $58,600. This included a construction project of approximately $21,700 with a cost share reimbursement of approximately $6,600 and approximately $10,400 for miscellaneous services. The County of Pittsylvania contributed approximately $19,900.
The building was constructed in 1955. The property was originally donated by the county to the state for the specific purpose of constructing a National Guard facility, and the Guard has asked the county if they are interested in the property reverting back to their ownership. If they are interested, the Guard will recommend reversion to the Department of Real Estate Services in the Virginia Department of General Services, and the state real estate process will determine the final outcome.
A closing ceremony is planned sometime in April or May, but a final date has not been set. The Soldiers expect to conduct their last training assembly there in March.