The oldest active military base west of the Mississippi River is getting a new, high tech mission. 

Jefferson Barracks, 186 years old, is becoming a joint reserve military intelligence center.  The center will involve a dozen fulltime personnel with fifty to seventy part-time National Guard members cycling through for training. The detachment will support the Army Guard’s 35th Infantry Division, which is based at Fort Leavenworth. 

National Guard spokesman Bill Phelan says the Defense Department and the National Guard Bureau wanted a Midwestern center close to specific facilities. such as the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency in Arnold.  .

Jefferson Barracks also is close to The U.S. Transportation Command  at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, and it’s close to Navy Reserve and Air National Guard units at Lambert-St. Louis airport.

Phelan says some buildings dating to the 19th century will be rehabilitated and restored to serve the modern mission.  He says putting the program at Jefferson Barracks makes sure the base is vital and important.  Seven years ago it almost closed–until the Base Realignment and Closure Commission changed its mind after visiting the old post.

AUDIO: Phelan interview 17:22