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Combat Center earns installation excellence award

24 May 2013 | Cpl. Sarah Dietz

The Combat Center was once again awarded the Commander in Chief's Installation Excellence Award for 2012. This is the fifth time the installation has been recognized as the top installation in the Marine Corps.

This week’s announcement also marks the first time an installation has received the award four consecutive years.

The Office of the President of the United States evaluates each competitor across the range of their command activities, from their operational support, the state of their facilities and infrastructure, their relationships with their community neighbors and the quality of life programs provided to the service members and civilians that live, work and play aboard those installations.  The command was evaluated across 24 categories which included topics like administration, training, environmental management, energy conservation, services and public works.

“One of the things that sets them apart are the multitude of awards, whether it’s personal or organizational awards, and all the outstanding work that’s accomplished within the Combat Center,” said Dr. Alex Pacheco, director of the Business Performance Office.

The Combat Center is home to more than 19,000 active duty service members, 2,300 civilian employees and 19,000 family members. One of the defining characteristics of the Combat Center is its unique role in preparing all elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force for global combat operations.

At 935 square miles, the Combat Center’s unique training ranges and expert training and assessment groups provide one-of-a-kind training opportunities to prepare Marines, sailors, members of our sister services and troops from our multi-national allies for complex combat situations. The Combat Center supported training last year for 50,000 of these warfighters.  It is the only training facility in the Department of Defense where Marines can "train the way they fight," closely integrating all of the weapons in the Marine Corps inventory with air and logistics support.

In addition to its training mission, the Combat Center provided resident units and families with top-quality facilities, services and quality of life programs. The installation benefitted from more than $100 million in construction projects last year, including a new child development center, an interactive Life-Long Learning Center, renovated fitness facilities, a new compound for 1st Tank Battalion and increased communications infrastructure.  Construction of a 9.2 Mega Watt co-generation plant will soon help the command achieve unprecedented energy savings, estimated at $3 million saved by producing cleaner, cheaper, more efficient energy and eliminating the need for separate heating, air conditioning and water temperature systems.

Maj. Gen. David H. Berger, Commanding General, attributed the recognition to the teamwork atmosphere found here.

“The training mission here is absolutely unique. It creates a shared sense of purpose for everyone that comes to Twentynine Palms. Whether you are a Marine assigned to one of the many units stationed here, or one of our dedicated Civilian Marines and NAF employees, everyone is pulling on the same rope. If you’re in Twentynine Palms, you are preparing for a deployment or supporting those who are. You come to work every day with a sense of why you are here.”

But the accomplishments which the award recognizes aren’t shared by the military community alone.

“Our extremely close relationships with our neighbors in the local communities are a foundation for the success of what we do here. This local community literally wraps their arms around us, around our Marines. During the holidays, families welcome Marines in if they can’t get home. Our military families live in the neighborhoods, our kids go to the same schools. The Combat Center and the Hi-Desert are tightly knitted together. The boundaries of the base extend well beyond the fenceline, like there’s not even a line there. When one does well, the other does well,” said Berger.

A formal ceremony will be held in Washington, D.C., later this year to present the Combat Center with the commemorative trophy and flag.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms