This year will be remembered as Fort Gordon's "coming out party," Garrison Commander Col. Sam Anderson said.
It was a year of unprecedented growth in both personnel and construction, he said.
As expected, the installation swelled by roughly 1,000 service members as it continues to prepare for the arrival of Army Cyber Command, expected to relocate to the Augusta-area post by 2019. Those soldiers were companied by an estimated 1,500 family members in 2015, something Anderson said not only has an impact on the installation, but also on the community as a whole.
Driving down orange cone-lined Chamberlain Avenue, it's hard to ignore the $200 million renovation, restoration and modernization projects that have sprung up at the installation. Most of the projects, including one to update Fort Gordon's Advanced Individual Training barracks, were "pre-programmed" before this year, Anderson said.
Army Installation Management Command also developed a cyber installation support summit, bringing together officials from Fort Gordon, Fort Meade and Fort Belvior to discuss issues relating to cyber growth.
"Through that effort, we were able to receive $60 million in resources to either do renovation projects of existing facilities or do road network improvements," he said.
Looking back on 2015, Anderson said he felt the installation was as active as it had ever been in community outreach, taking the opportunity to inform local officials of the opportunities that exist because of the installation's growth while also addressing areas of need.
One of the direct results of those talks was the creation of the Alliance for Cybersecurity Education to inject cyber-based curriculum into area high schools.
Leadership from area chambers of commerce also traveled with Fort Gordon officials to participate in a series of town hall meetings in Washington, which allowed them to educate companies and individuals who will be affected by the Army Cyber Command move.
"It's really important, from a military prospective, because we want them to make the decision to move from the D.C. area to Augusta," Anderson said. "When Army Cyber Command comes to Augusta, we want them to be operational."
Fort Gordon did experience some hiccups, particularly with the implementation of new access control procedures. Department of the Army policy changes issued last fall require visitors to military installations to receive a National Crime Information Center background check, and the post's new Automated Installation Entry systems caused some delays after going live.
Some of those issues could be alleviated by the construction of a new entrance west of Gate 3, which was met favorably by officials in 2015, though those plans likely wouldn't come into fruition until 2018.
Also this year, Fort Gordon commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Fogarty announced his vision for the future of the Cyber Center of Excellence, which includes plans to develop the already existing campus into one that more closely resembles a college, Anderson said. He added that it's promising that Fort Gordon can discuss growth at a time when the Army is experiencing cutbacks.
"I think the community is starting to realize it has an extraordinary opportunity," he said. "Installations across the Army are trying to figure out how to reduce their footprint. Communities across the country are seeing a military population they depend on for economic continuity ... dwindling.
"By comparison, we're seeing a 22 percent growth in our population. That's incredible for our area."