Navy Operational Support Center  

by Eric G. Mion
U.S. Cost, Inc.



The Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) is a component facility of the Navy Reserve Center. As such, it is similar to other U.S. military reserve centers, but mission differences between the armed services reserve programs result in facility differences that are not addressed on this page. NOSCs provide operational, training, and administrative support to the Navy Reserve mission to provide mission-capable units and individuals to the Navy's active duty component throughout the full range of operations during peacetime and war.

The facility accommodates full-time command and administrative staff and reservists during drill weekends. While it is primarily occupied by military personnel, the NOSC also performs a recruitment function and serves certain family and retiree needs. As the operational headquarters of the resident units, the NOSC design should venerate the naval military and convey the history and significance of the units.

NOSCs can also be included as part of an Armed Forces Reserve Center, which serves two or more military service reserve programs. In those instances, the NOSC components must be carefully incorporated into the overall facility to ensure critical functions and adjacencies are maintained.

Building Attributes

A. Types of Spaces

The NOSC generally includes four broad functional areas: administrative support, medical spaces, unit areas, and the drill hall. The unit areas include operations, administration, and training functions.

Administrative Support

  • Recruiting office. Located adjacent to the main facility entrance, this is typically the only space outside of the building security check-point.

  • Quarterdeck. The hub of the main administrative areas and the architectural focal point of the building interior; the quarterdeck serves as a ceremonial gathering and display area.

  • Full-time staff spaces. Located near the main facility entrance but behind the security check point, this area must accommodate individual office work and allow staff members to interact with reservists and visiting family and retirees in a controlled environment. This suite of spaces accommodates secure and general-purpose meetings, mail handling and distribution, identification card issue, and general administrative work.

  • Funeral honors office. This office accommodates the administration of the military funeral honors program and the storage of associated supplies.

  • Distance learning center. This technologically advanced classroom supports synchronous and asynchronous learning where student and teacher may in physically different locations.

  • Mess. This is a small warming/staging kitchen that supports drill hall functions.

  • Fitness room. Small fitness area for use by full-time staff and some reservists. It is not designed to accommodate the required physical readiness training for reservists.

Medical Suite

These spaces are provided when a medical unit is assigned. The suite of spaces will vary in scope depending on where the NOSC is located and the availability of other nearby medical facilities. Treatment and ambulatory services are not provided. The NOSC clinic performs non-therapeutic activities related to the health of the personnel served, such as physical examinations, immunizations, medical administration, preventive medicine services, and health promotion activities to support the military mission. Due to the high volume of reservists processed, the NOSC medical suite may benefit from an "assembly-line" approach to the layout:

  • Medical office/reception.
  • Check-in/admitting/vision. Private area off of reception where information such as blood pressure, temperature, etc. can be obtained. Also includes vision testing.
  • Medical exam room. Private exam space.
  • Dental exam room. Dental exams only cleaning is not performed.
  • Dental x-ray.
  • Audio booth. Sized for one to two reservists to undergo hearing tests.
  • Medical toilet. Single-use toilet with a carousel to the blood draw room.
  • Blood draw. Area for drawing, initial processing, and storing blood.
  • Immunization room. Includes area for storing and administering shots.
  • Doctor library and transcription room. Open office area for doctor/dentists with medical resource library.
  • Medical file room. Securable room with secure medical and dental file storage.
  • Medical supply room.
  • Medical equipment storage. Storage for larger items such as CPR dummies, back boards and other deployable medical supplies.

Unit Area

The unit areas accommodate the training, administrative, and storage requirements for the specific reserve units assigned to the NOSC. These spaces are typically only used during drill weekends, and each unit drills once a month. Up to two drill weekends per month can be conducted, so these spaces are typically shared by units drilling on different weekends.

Drill Hall

This area provides a room to accommodate large groups, typically more than one unit at a time, for various activities such as testing, muster, messing, and ceremonies. It includes storage, support, and toilet spaces, the later designed to facilitate urinalysis testing.

Building Organization

NOSC building organization and adjacencies are critical to the success of the facility due to the mix of full-time operational and command staff, part-time reservists, retirees, families, and potential recruits.

Graphic showing a sample bubble diagram for a N Operational Support Center

Sample bubble diagram for a NOSC.
Developed by AECOM Design, Arlington, VA

The service counter/waiting area adjacent to the full-time staff areas functions as the interface between the staff and reservists or non-military visitors. The high-tech, high-profile distance learning center may perform an important advertising function for the facility and Navy reserve program that is served by a visual connection to the main entry corridor.

Required adjacencies may be accommodated vertically. If a multi-story facility is required, unit areas will work most efficiently on the upper levels.

B. Determining the Building's Attributes

Key design goals and considerations for NOSCs include the following:

Flexibility for Changing Missions

Reserve units can vary significantly in size from as few as 15 reservists to over 100. Also, the number and mix of units will change over the life of the facility.

  • Provide unit classrooms with movable partitions to accommodate changing reserve units of different sizes. These partitions must acoustically meet the training functions of these rooms and be of durable construction.
  • Site and configure the structure to accommodate easy expansion, if possible.
  • Balance these goals with the need to develop cost and space efficient facilities.

Provide a Durable and Maintainable Facility

NOSCs have unique challenges that relate to the operation and maintenance of the building. They tend to be very large structures that are substantially unoccupied except for drill weekends twice a month. Also, with most military facilities, NOSCs are required to have a longer life cycle than comparable commercial facilities.

  • Zone the building systems to effectively manage energy consumption during periods of lower utilization.
  • Carefully consider building circulation paths and size appropriate corridors for drill weekend populations to avoid overcrowding and resulting facility damage.
  • Provide durable and easily-cleaned finishes and equipment.

Include Appropriate Space for Staff

Provide space to assist staff in developing and maintaining the center's programs and business. Outside of normal day-to-day operations, staff must be able to accomplish the following:

  • Think and plan
  • Meet and communicate
  • Host visitors
  • Store equipment and records

Emerging Issues

NOSCs can be located on military installations or on public sites. As a result of military facility security [link to Secure/Safe page] regulations, it may be more difficult to locate NOSCs on public sites. This is because additional land space for building set-backs and fencing are required along with other security measures. However, public locations enhance recruitment opportunities and are typically more convenient for reservists, families and retirees. Therefore, determining the best location for a NOSC and the associated site planning are critical. When the facility is located on an installation it should be located as near the main entrance as possible.

Relevant Codes and Standards

NOSCs are DoD facilities and subject to the appropriate codes and standards defined in the Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) program. Key documents specific to the NOSC facility include the following:

Major Resources

The Naval Operations Support Center, Washington, DC is located at Joint Base Andrews, MD.
For more information contact the Duty Office at (240) 460-9085.