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Fort George G. Meade was established in 1917 and its primary mission was soldier training through the 1960’s. In the 1950s, the post became headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA). Scheduled to close in the 1960’s, the post was kept open to support NSA. Today, Fort Meade’s primary mission is the support of the Cyber and Information Assurance Centers of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. To fulfill its mission inside the fence, Fort Meade depends strongly on defense contractors and the communities outside the fence. In fact, 2/3rds of the Fort Meade intelligence mission is accomplished by defense contractors and 85% of its workforce of 56,000 resides off the installation.
The Fort Meade community has experienced tremendous growth over the last 10 years. Its total workforce has grown from 35,000 to 56,000 and is expected to exceed 60,000 by 2015. Significant growth is likely to continue past that date. The mission of Fort Meade is expanding. BRAC 2005 added three major new commands and 5,800 positions of a projected growth of over 26,000 new positions on the installation in the next ten years. Nine additional DOD commands have moved to Fort Meade since the implementation of BRAC 2005. Additionally, 26 new defense contractors have established a presence and 51 defense contractors have expanded their presence in and around Fort Meade; over $500 million dollars of federal construction has built 1.4 million square feet of office space and laboratories on the Fort; and more than 5.4 million square feet of office space is either out of the ground or in planning stages in the region surrounding Fort Meade.
In addition to unprecedented BRAC-related growth, the National Security Agency (NSA) is preparing to develop an additional portion of Fort Meade as an operational complex to meet the evolving needs of the Intelligence Community. The August 2011 approved Record of Decision addressing Campus Development at Fort Meade, provides that phase one of the development is to be complete by 2015 with 1.8 million new square feet and 6,500 additional personnel.
With the establishment of Defense Cyber Command in 2010, and its co-location with NSA and DISA, Fort Meade and its surrounding region has become the epicenter of the United States’ efforts to integrate and synchronize the full spectrum of cyberspace and information assurance operations. Mission success of Fort Meade DOD Agencies, Homeland Security elements and its 15,000 supporting contractors relies on the intellectual capabilities of its work force more than all other factors. Recruiting and retaining this highly specialized workforce depends on sustaining an exceptional level of quality of life. In strategic military terms, quality of life in the Fort Meade Region is a “Force Multiplier.”