FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "Ten years ago if somebody told me that I was going to be big on the environment and sustainability, I probably would have laughed it off," said Bill Edwards, the Fort Bragg installation range officer who recently won the 2010 Installation Management Command range manager of the year award.

"But in this day and age ... we don't want to build a range that's going to cost more to maintain than it costs to build," explained Edwards, who was selected from an Army-wide pool of applicants for the prestigious award.

Edwards constantly seeks to optimize resources for cost-saving projects in support of the Army's strategic goals and objectives while protecting the environment to ensure the sustainability of Fort Bragg.

He's headed projects like the famed Freedom City, circa 2002, which carried a hefty price tag of $300,000 if built from scratch using materials purchased in Fayetteville. Instead, Edwards decided to use old sea-land shipping containers. His team found over 50 out-of-service containers, then stacked and reconfigured them (cutting out windows and building stairs). The 90-day project resulted in a facility for military operations in urbanized terrain facility for a scant price tag of $4,500.

In his decade as range officer, Edwards has managed more than 100 ranges and training facilities around Fort Bragg with a staff of 66 maintenance and support personnel. The ranges vary in size from half an acre to nearly 600 acres for some of the multipurpose ranges like Range 63, which hosts live fire training, aviation gunnery, infantry squad training and sniper training.

In total, Fort Bragg has over 150,000 acres set aside for ranges and training, covering land west of Gruber Road, north of Plank Road, south of Manchester Road and east of King Road (also known as restricted area 53-11). Edwards' crew also facilitates maneuver training for Camp Mackall and blank fire training in the Overhills area, consisting of forest on both sides of Highway 87. The team also established the improvised explosive device defeat lane in this section of Fort Bragg.

His commitment to sustainability and a (Lean) Six Sigma style of management led to the recent purchase of a brick making machine. The machine produces dirt blocks comparable to a cinder block. The benefit, however, is realistic looking buildings for Soldiers training to deploy to Afghanistan.

"When the building is shot up, it just returns back to the earth. That means less landfill space stemming from construction projects, and easier transition times for adjusting the look and feel of a range," he added.

"We send Soldiers to oversees contingency operations and we know that based on what we do and the ranges we provide, they're prepared," said Edwards. "It's a very rewarding job."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16