FORT IRWIN Fort Irwin broke ground Wednesday on a new $400 million hospital to replace one built nearly half a century ago.


The hospital will serve 15,000 active duty service members, family members, and retirees, who are stationed at or live on Fort Irwin and the surrounding High Desert communities, officials said.


The new facility will be a community based hospital providing emergency, obstetrical, and general surgery services. It will have a full contingent of ancillary services, including pharmacy, laboratory, and radiology departments. Also included in the construction will be a water treatment plant for the hospital.


During construction, the hospital project is expected to create about 600 jobs, according to the Barstow Chamber of Commerce.


The hospital will support units that rotate in and out, 10 times per year. Rotating units have been trained at the NTC for tours to Iraq and are being prepared for deployments to Afghanistan or for any future contingency.


Besides being a state-of-the-art medical facility, the hospital will generate more power than it uses. Though the hospital will draw on the local grid during the night, it will more than make up for its electricity consumption with the help of nearby solar panels.


The new hospital is scheduled to be completed by 2016 and will be located just north of the current hospital, which was built in 1966.


The NTC conducts 10, 28-day training rotations per year. Approximately 50,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines were trained in fiscal year 2011.