By Mitzi Oxford, March 13, 2023
When Fort Gordon becomes Fort Eisenhower, members of the General’s family will not only be heading to the post just outside of Augusta, but they are also helping plan the date for the renaming ceremony. Their request is that the event be held in October, which would coincide with former President Dwight Eisenhower’s birth date of October 14.
“Fort Gordon Command staff is working with the Eisenhower family on the final details for the exact date of the event, one that is mutually accommodating,” said Lesli Wouters, Chief of Public Affairs, U.S. Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon.
Fort Gordon is one of nine army bases involved in the renaming process which includes removing all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate any person who served with the Confederate States of America.
The cost of becoming Fort Eisenhower
Initial estimates are the bill will run $39 million to change the name of nine military installations. The good news is that the cost to rename Fort Gordon currently stands around $580,000 which is much less than the renaming process for the other eight bases and is most likely because the medical facility on the post already bears Eisenhower’s name.
The hospital’s current building opened for patients in 1976, replaced sprawling wooden buildings from the World War II era.
The final amount is a work in progress. “We have a group that is working to identify every name, symbol, display, and monument at Fort Gordon for the renaming process,” said Wouters.
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It’s a daunting task considering Fort Gordon covers roughly 86 square miles and is home to the U.S. Army Signal Corps, U.S. Army Cyber Command, and the Cyber Center of Excellence. The installation is also Augusta’s largest employer with almost 32,000 military, civilian, and contractors with an estimated economic impact of $2.4 billion annually.
To put everything into perspective, if you combined the top employers in Augusta including ADP, Amazon, Augusta University, and Textron, and said, “Let’s rename your company, every single sign, every piece of paper including letterheads and business cards, and website redesign,” would that be overwhelming? Perhaps, but this is the army, and their approach is strategic enough to win wars. Just look at General Dwight Eisenhower’s record.
Why Fort Eisenhower?
Serving as President of the United States from 1953 to 1961, Eisenhower brought his prestige as commanding general of the victorious forces in Europe during World War II, obtained a truce in Korea, and worked incessantly during his two terms to ease the tensions of the Cold War.
U.S. Air Force Major General RET Perry Smith weighed in on the selection and the mutual admiration between Augusta and General Eisenhower.
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“He should have an installation named for him based on his military accomplishments and service to his country. The renaming is also fitting for his love of Augusta. When he was in town, he played golf at Augusta National and he always attended services at Reid Memorial Presbyterian,” said Gen. Smith.
As often as Eisenhower worshipped at Reid Memorial, there were just as many times he was on the course 3 miles away. His mark was left on those 18 holes. Ike’s tree, the pine he hit many a time, Ike’s Pond, a three-acre pond created at his suggestion, which golfers play around on the 8th and 9th holes, and then there is the iconic Eisenhower Cabin built for the President and his wife, Mamie, in 1953.
The Eisenhower Cabin at Augusta National was built in 1953 for President Eisenhower complete with quarters for Secret Service.
The past meets the future
Where the past meets the present is the renaming of Fort Gordon to Fort Eisenhower. Where the present meets the future is happening with the construction of the $900-million Cyber Center campus expansion which includes a new building, renovation, and modernization of existing facilities, and road, water, and sewer improvements. Underway is a $50-million entry at Gate 6 that will widen a portion of Gordon Highway. The project is the largest military construction project in the U.S.
The Cyber Center of Excellence is under construction and the campus is expected to be completed by 2028.
The cyber security threat is something that General Eisenhower could likely never have imagined. Conflicts are still fought on land, sea, and air, but cyber threats are a reality in today’s world.
Patrick Reynolds, CEO of Cross Link Consulting understands that better than most.
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“There is the risk of a crippling cyber-attack, just like there is the risk of a nuclear attack, but there is similarly a “red line” that would lead to significant retaliation if crossed. Our enemies know that threshold to a precise degree, and I feel that this is the primary deterrent that keeps them from trying to cripple the U.S. economy,” Reynolds said.
On the other hand, Reynolds knows there is a lot of synergy between the Cyber Center of Excellence (CCoE) and the Georgia Cyber Center (GCC), and the latter is a more direct resource for most local organizations.
“There are many hurdles to bring quality and affordable cybersecurity solutions to CSRA organizations, but we are much further along than we would be if it weren’t for their collaboration, “Reynolds explained.