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NY National Guard holds groundbreaking ceremony at Latham headquarters

The New York National Guard held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday in Latham to launch a $3.7 million renovation of the 36-year-old headquarters.

The Joint Force Headquarters complex will undergo work to upgrade its interior and efficiency, as well as to meet Federal Antiterrorism Force Protection requirements. The building originally had a driveway running between buildings, but following the September 11th attacks, the drive was closed off and the grounds redesigned for security.

There are about 400 military and civilian staff working in the complex each day and an additional 320 drilling citizen soldiers and airmen. The complex includes the Office of the Adjutant General and headquarters for the New York Army National Guard, the New York Air National Guard, the New York Naval Militia, the New York Guard State Volunteer Force and the New York National Guard Joint Force Headquarters.

The roughly 5,000-square-foot addition will connect the buildings in the complex by enclosing the open space below a connector and create a new lobby and entrance vestibule. It will also include interior updates, such as LED lighting, wireless access points and an upgraded camera system. The project is expected to be completed in October 2023.

Major General Ray Shields, New York’s Adjutant General, says the men and women working at the complex have been instrumental in responding to historic events.

“Think about our response to September 11, 2001, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Superstorm Sandy, Syria, Lake Ontario flooding, winter storms, our most recent COVID response mission, Ukrainian training missions, our partnership with the South African defense forces, with the Brazilian defense forces, the Israeli Home Front Command, polar operations...You name it and we have been right there in the middle of historic events with strategic implications overseas and here at home.”

Shields stressed the National Guard’s recent support while combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We just finished a remarkable 27 months of COVID support throughout the state. 1.8 million workdays, it's just an incredible number of days that we've provided to New York State. More than $350 million in pay and allowances (and) $229 million in logistical support. And none of this could have been done without your efforts here at Latham. Our civilian and military workforce at the Joint Force Headquarters is the connective tissue which allows our service members to provide support for civil support operations.”

The funding for the project is distributed by the New York State Office of General Services. Commissioner Jeanette Moy says the agency oversees about $2.4 billion of construction and design work each year and added the National Guard are her favorite clients.

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy at National Guard groundbreaking ceremony in Latham, NY
Ashley Hupfl
New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy at National Guard groundbreaking ceremony in Latham, NY

“Don't tell anyone else that! But, that's because the work that you do is so important and the fact that we can help to contribute to build something that you deserve is incredible,” Moy said. “Your service to our country, the work and the sacrifice that you provide - not just you but your families, as well - it's something that we are so grateful for.”

A large crowd of Guard members attended the groundbreaking ceremony, many wearing civilian clothes instead of their normal uniforms. Shields said after the ceremony, each office was spending the rest of the day celebrating the start of the construction.

“So, picnics, various things, boat rides. The (Office of the Adjutant General) is going to throw axes. I don't know how safe that's gonna be,” Shields said to laughter.