TAMPA — The old building didn't have windows. It was a maze. Some people even worked in trailers.
Now U.S. Central Command headquarters has a building reflective of the work it does, said U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, at a ceremony Monday for the new $75 million facility at MacDill Air Force Base.
The giant concrete building has 260,000 square feet with an entire floor dedicated to a global communications network.
But Monday's dedication was about more than a building, said Young, the chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee.
"We are dedicating the commitment of a country," he said, "to guaranteeing the freedom of this country, to guaranteeing the protection of its citizens."
About 2,000 people work at the headquarters of CentCom, the combatant command that leads the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
CentCom commander Gen. James Mattis thanked taxpayers and Congress for the new building. The entire project will cost about $82 million, including the demolition of the old center.
The old center had been constructed during the early 1980s for the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, which was the precursor to CentCom.
The new headquarters opened during the summer, but it took about eight weeks to move all the people, their computers and phones.
It has shiny tile floors, wood paneling and a secure entrance. The windows will improve morale, said CentCom's chief of staff, Army Maj. Gen. Karl Horst.
And because the layout is more logical, it's easier to find people, he said.
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3433.