Army Environmental Programs
What is it? The Army's environmental programs encompass a broad range of installation efforts that sustain Soldier training and readiness, protect natural resources, and provide a healthy environment for Soldiers, their families and surrounding communities. The Army Strategy for the Environment establishes a long-range vision that enables the Army to meet its mission today and into the future. Sustainability is the foundation for this Strategy and a paradigm that focuses on thinking to address both present and future needs while strengthening community partnerships that improve our ability to organize, equip, train, and deploy our Soldiers as part of the joint force.
What has the Army done?
- Over the past year, the Army has developed innovative environmental programs and streamlined existing efforts targeted to save installations valuable time and money. The environmental compliance deficiency resolution process illustrates these savings. This process provides installation staff with a direct line of assistance to the garrison commander for addressing unexpected environmental issues. By allowing installations the authority to handle these unforeseen deficiencies, they can be resolved in as little as 30 days versus a process that used to take up to two years. Fixing these unexpected challenges before they become more serious minimizes total costs, precludes detrimental impacts on mission activities and demonstrates effective management.
- Performance-Based Contracts (PBCs) are another way the Army is creating efficiencies while improving effectiveness. By using PBCs, the Army is able to buy effective and safe environmental cleanups for a fixed price and a set schedule by dictating what the objectives are and when they need to be reached, rather than how contractors will achieve those objectives. Since 2000, the Army has awarded 40 PBCs at 58 active installations, resulting in a cost avoidance of $216 million. Those dollars have been reinvested into the program to further expedite installation cleanups.
- The Army currently has identified 168 appropriate facilities for environmental management system (EMS) implementation. All have successfully implemented an EMS, as required by Executive Order 13148, "Greening the Government Through Leadership in Environmental Management." Each EMS is a tool that supports the Army's Strategy for the Environment and sustainability goals.
What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future?Another innovation is a unique program created to protect the vital functions of training ranges from incompatible land uses outside installation boundaries. The Army is leveraging legislative authority provided by the 2003 Defense Authorization Act to establish buffer areas near active training and testing areas through partnerships with government and private organizations. To date, more than 45,000 acres of land have been protected through the Army Compatible Use Buffers (ACUB) program at nine installations across the country, and another 10 installations are in the process of completing ACUBs. These buffers will help assure the long-term viability of training on Army installations. The Army will continue to champion programs such as ACUBs in order to support the triple bottom line of mission, community and environment.
Why is this important to the Army?Simply complying with environmental regulations will not ensure the Army will be able to meet current and future mission requirements. Effective policies and practices that safeguard the environment while enhancing readiness and quality of life must be implemented in order to sustain the future Army. The Army's environmental programs incorporate sustainability into all functional areas and ensure that the Army can sustain the mission and secure the future.