From the Desk of Congressman Chris Smith
Marking the opening of the New Jersey National Guard’s new 86,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art training facility in Sea Girt, N.J., keynote speaker Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said the impressive center, “couldn’t come at a more important and critical time in our history, both globally as well as domestically.”
“There are wars, there are threats of war and the war on terror is showing no signs of abatement,” Smith said. “Training is what wins these wars and what mitigates casualties—and mitigates conflict in the first place.”
Along with Smith, Brigadier General Michael Cunniff, Brigadier General Edward Chrystal, Brigadier General (Ret.) Frank Dulfer, Colonel John Petrera, Colonel Wayne McCaughey, Colonel Michael Lyons and numerous other military and civic leaders attended the official ribbon-cutting event.
The expansive $30.8 million project was authorized in the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112-239), legislation supported by Smith, to replace World War II-era buildings. Known as the Regional Training Institute (RTI), the facility will now house 10 modern classrooms along with 26 offices, 72 billeting rooms, a library/learning center and an auditorium with room for 225 people.
Brigadier General Cunniff said, “First and foremost, I would like to recognize and thank Congressman Chris Smith for his leadership and commitment to the wellbeing of the armed forces and his dedication to making this project possible to ensure our troops have the best equipment and facilities.”
Colonel Petrera, who is the commander of the base, said “Special thanks to Congressman Chris Smith, for without his efforts we wouldn’t be here today.”
Further underscoring the value of investing in modernized, advanced equipment training, Smith quoted Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis, “no enemy in the field has done more to harm the combat readiness of our troops than sequestration.”
“The cuts have wreaked havoc on our military,” said Smith. “In 2011 the defense budget was $670 billion dollars and by 2015 it dropped to $553 billion, amounting to a $164 billion dollar cut.”
But Smith also offered some encouragement, “Thankfully, we are in a rebuilding year; there is bipartisan support for restoring our equipment systems—program training is key.”
Smith praised the Guard and RTI’s leadership for their foresight, commitment and achievement in securing the upgraded RTI. “This training facility helps in this critical time. It will help better prepare our troops. It is well led—incredibly led—and I want to thank you.”
The enhanced facility is expected to boost and advance Guard training at the RTI including operational readiness, combat medicine training, and infrastructure support. Other full-time tenants that will train at RTI include New Jersey State Police, Department of Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice Commission and the Department of Corrections.