CAMP JOHNSON, N.C. -- "This new educational facility will help bring the Marine Corps into the 21st Century," said Col. Jonathan T. Pasco.
The commanding officer of Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools here was excited about an education facility that most are calling a huge technological advance for the Marine Corps.
Pasco joined guests of honor Lt. Gen. Richard L. Kelly, deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics, retired Lt. Gen. Gary McKissock, former I & L deputy commandant, and Maj. Gen. David M. Mize, Marine Corps Base commanding general, to break ground for the project scheduled for completion in 2004.
For MCCSSS, which is the Marine Corps' largest MOS producing school, this is a huge step, said Pasco. The $10 million facility will allow for the demolition of the current World War II-era, barracks-style classrooms. According to Pasco, the facility will indeed be the Corps' most advanced educational facility. The 85,000-square-foot building will provide 44 state-of-the-art classrooms, a 150-seat auditorium, a command instruction media center and office space for more than 230 instructors and staff.
Depending on funding not yet approved, Pasco said phase two of the project will provide facilities for logistics and operations, financial and instructional management, and combat water survival schools.
The future home for MCCSSS ensures better-prepared Marines will take us well into the 21st century, said Lt. Col. John Miles, operations officer and MCCSSS director of academics.
This is an enormous step up from the original 1940s buildings that are used as classrooms now, he said.
According to Pasco, with the approximately 8,000 students that go through schools here every year, the current classrooms are not sufficient for the advanced training Marines receive.
He said the current classrooms have poor sightlines to the instructor, leaky roofs, a lack of bathroom facilities, poor acoustics, low ceilings, faulty climate control and ventilation and exposed cables.
"We massaged it (the building plans) to get exactly what we needed. Instead of long, narrow classrooms, we made them shorter and wider," said Miles.
He said there will be a theater-type arrangement where the front of the room will be lower than the back, making for a better view of the instructor and not the back of a student's head. The computer screens will be recessed into the desks, so the teacher can see students and not have to worry about them hiding behind a bulky computer monitor.
"The benefits will be immediate and significant. Better learning leads to better retention," stated Pasco. "Since the purpose of the facility is to train better Marines, the impact of this facility will be felt throughout the Marine Corps for years to come."