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N.D. Guard breaks ground on training center

CAMP GRAFTON, N.D. -- The North Dakota Army National Guard broke ground Monday on a $30.5 million regional training facility at Camp Grafton. When completed, the 164th Regiment Regional Training Institute will provide training for as many as 5,00...

CAMP GRAFTON, N.D. -- The North Dakota Army National Guard broke ground Monday on a $30.5 million regional training facility at Camp Grafton.

When completed, the 164th Regiment Regional Training Institute will provide training for as many as 5,000 of the nation's Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers annually.

"North Dakota is home to some of the finest military installations in the country, and this new facility will be an important addition," Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said. "The decision to locate more combat engineer training here says a lot about the respect the military has for our National Guard."

North Dakota received $33 million of the federal government's $73 million total allocation this fiscal year for National Guard facility construction.

The Phase One building, which will span 182,825 square feet, will house administration and education facilities, a construction laboratory and the first of three wings for housing students. It is scheduled to be completed by August 2010.

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Phase Two, budgeted at $21 million, is scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2015. It will add an additional 68,179 square feet to the institute.

'Top-notch to premier'

"Camp Grafton is already a top-notch facility for training combat engineers, and with this new facility, Camp Grafton is poised to become one of the premier training institutes in the country," Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., said. "North Dakota's National Guard has long been at the forefront of combat engineer training, and this expansion will only increase this important role."

Camp Grafton's Regional Training Institute currently offers fully accredited military training to more than 3,600 soldiers annually. However, training is spread over 20 different small buildings across Camp Grafton, located along Devils Lake, 12 miles south of the city of Devils Lake.

When complete, the complex will include 216 rooms, capable of housing a total of 260 students at a time. The entire institute will operate under one roof.

"The work that the men and women of the North Dakota National Guard -- especially those at Camp Grafton -- do to prepare our combat engineers saves lives every day on the battlefield," Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said. "The expansion of Camp Grafton will strengthen our nation's military and protect our forces on the ground. It's just one more way the North Dakota National Guard makes a valuable contribution to our national security."

Combat training at Camp Grafton gives instruction to combat engineers and bridge crew members in the area of "urban" training, demolition, bridging and obstacles.

Horizontal training provides instruction for construction equipment operators and quarry specialists. Vertical construction training is geared toward carpenters, masonry workers, technical engineers, plumbers and electricians.

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"It's often been said that victory begins with training, and that's particularly true at this facility," said Brig. Gen. Robert Udland, commander of the Joint Training and Operations Command for the North Dakota Army National Guard. "If victory begins with training, then let the training begin."

Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1269; (800) 477-6572, ext. 269; or send e-mail to kbonham@gfherald.com .

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