By Devon L. Suits, Army News ServiceJune 13, 2019
ARLINGTON, Va. -- For the past year the Army has been conducting energy-resilience exercises at Fort Greeley, Alaska; Fort Knox, Kentucky; and Fort Stewart, Georgia to identify faults in their power-grids and back-up power infrastructure.
Most recently, officials say Fort Bragg was without power for over 10 hours in late April, but since that time North Carolina has worked with MIT Lincoln Laboratory engineers to create a controlled, base-wide outage as a means of understanding and correcting problems related to primary and back-up power generation.
These exercises are forcing the Army to address and determine vulnerabilities before adversaries figure out our weaknesses and exploit them, said Alex A. Beehler, the assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment.
The energy resilience exercises are just one example of what the Army is doing to modernize its installations in support of Soldier readiness and project strategic power on a multi-domain battlefield, Beehler said Wednesday at the Association of the U.S. Army "Hot Topic" symposium on installation management.
An attack or natural disaster on or near an installation would not only compromise the Army's ability to operate, but it would also impact the wellbeing and even livelihood of Soldiers and their families, along with the neighboring populations that provide or look to the Army for support, Beehler said.
Compounding the issue, the Army has to make difficult choices when prioritizing support to military operations, said Jordan Gillis, the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army (IE&E). This has had the unintended consequence of creating funding shortfalls in other areas important to installations, and while the Army has designed and built facilities to last for 40-75 years, parts of the Army continue to operate on antiquated infrastructure.
"We have an $11 billion backlog of deferred maintenance, and in many cases we have failed to adapt installations and facilities to meet the requirements of [future Army] missions," Gillis said. "Moving forward, Army installations will need quality infrastructure to support operations and protect its Soldiers, families, equipment, and network."
Within the multi-domain operation framework, installations align under the strategic support area. This is where forces train and carry out their missions, but now the Army must mitigate the threat generated from near-peer adversaries. "Competitors now possess advanced cyberspace, space, and physical capabilities, air-enabled special operations, and missile forces that can contest [Army infrastructure]," said Gillis.
While upgrades need to be made, the programs hold promise, Beehler said.
"Recognizing we have a problem is the beginning of fixing the problem," he said. "The Army has lots to do to upgrade installation operations."