The Honorable Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army for Installation, Energy and Environment visited Pine Bluff Arsenal April 17.

During her visit, Ms. Hammack received an overview briefing about the Arsenal's mission, and toured ammunition and chemical and biological defense production lines. She also toured various energy infrastructures during her visit. In recent years, the Arsenal has been upgrading various aging energy systems on the installation, including steam line replacement, heating and cooling upgrades, as well as upgrades to storage warehouses and fiber optic systems.

Ms. Hammack was appointed to this secretary position by President Barack Obama in June 2010. She is the primary advisor to the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army on all Army matters related to Installation policy, oversight and coordination of energy security and management.

She is also responsible for policy and oversight of sustainability and environmental initiatives; resource management including design, military construction, operations and maintenance; base realignment and closure; privatization of Army family housing, lodging, real estate, utilities; and the Army's installations safety and occupational health programs.

Ms. Hammack said that energy is all about mission effectiveness, which is why it is important for small installations like the Arsenal to upgrade their energy infrastructure and continue to find ways to conserve and be more environmentally friendly.

"When you are able to increase your mission effectiveness and efficiency, save money and find a way that is good for the environment, it is a win from all sides," she said. "When we look at all this, it is because we want to try to be better participants in the community. When you are more efficient and less dependent upon vulnerable power grids it really helps the mission."

Commenting on the beautiful and heavily-wooded setting of the Arsenal's conference facility, Ms. Hammack said that some Army installations, such as Fort Drum in New York, have started to look at using a bio-mass generating facility to produce power using the leftovers from the timber industry.

"This is something that could be used to generate all the power needed to run the installation. When we talk about renewable energies and the ability to be greener, sometimes we have to look at the resources we have," she said. "This could be an opportunity. We encourage installations to look at the resources they have available, and become more self-sufficient."

The Army is all about people, said Hammack. "It is the people who are out fighting, and the people who produce the products we fight with," she said. "It is always critical that we provide a safe, healthy work environment for our people so they can continue to be productive to the benefit of this nation."

In this time of fiscal uncertainty with the Department of Defense, Ms. Hammack said that we all have a responsibility to look at how we are spending money. "One of the opportunities for the industrial base is to leverage capabilities into the private sector," she said. "The reality is that as we downsize our Army, we have a responsibility to downsize our infrastructure. This provides us the opportunity Army-wide to take a hard look at ourselves."