Defense officials cut the ribbon Thursday on a $67 million facility to house the military's news and information operations at Fort Meade.
The Defense Media Activity, established in 2008, consolidates the former Soldiers Media Center, Naval Media Center, Marine Corps News, Air Force News Service and American Forces Information Service into a single organization. It also includes the Stars and Stripes newspaper and the Defense Information School.
Roughly 600 military and civilian employees and contractors moved into the building during the summer, officials said in a release. The Defense Media Activity employs an additional 1,900 people in four states, the District of Colombia and 15 countries including Afghanistan, where the Armed Forces Network provides radio and television service for U.S. troops deployed there.
The Defense Information School trains more than 3,200 military and civilian public affairs and visual information specialists each year, officials said, and the organization distributes 150,000 copies of Stars and Stripes worldwide. The Defense Media Activity also provides eight radio channels and 12 television channels to U.S. troops in 177 countries and aboard ships at sea.
"This is an important milestone for the short history of DMA," said Mel Russell, acting director of the Defense Media Activity. "Six years ago, BRAC 2005 was signed into law. We were told to take seven separate activities that belonged to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and to consolidate them into one organization, and then to move that organization to Fort Meade and to do it by September of 2011. We have successfully completed that task."
Gov. Martin O'Malley declared Thursday "Defense Media Activity Day" in Maryland.
The 185,000-square-foot facility was built by Hensel Phelps Construction Co., which has an office in Chantilly, Va., under the supervision of the Baltimore district of the Army Corps of Engineers. Officials said the building houses more than $25 million in state-of-the-art equipment .