WASHINGTON - Embedded within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), a cadre of environmental engineers and specialists stand ready to provide specialized support to the combatant command and its components during war, contingency operations, disaster relief, and other special missions. This cadre, known as the Environmental Support Team (EnvST), is an expeditionary team that provides critical environmental support to deployed U.S. Forces so they can focus on their mission.
Newly assigned EnvST members recently participated in a two-week training session, working and honing skills alongside members of other expeditionary teams that make up USACE’s Field Force Engineering program. During this annual training session, which was held March 10-19 at the USACE Readiness Support Center in Mobile, Alabama, members from EnvST, the Forward Engineer Support Team (FEST), Contingency Real Estate Support Team (CREST), and Logistics Support Team (LST) strengthened their skills in support of the war fighter, with an emphasis on base camp development and operations.
"This is the second iteration where EnvST students were teamed up with their counterparts from Logistics, Real Estate, and the FEST Team,” said Dan Hunt, EnvST instructor with the U.S. Army Engineer School's Directorate of Environmental Integration. “This complete and diverse team has the ability to adapt to any situation and accomplish their mission.”
“This complete and diverse team has the ability to adapt to any situation and accomplish their mission.”
The training enables each student to understand their capabilities and the assets that are available while encompassing a team concept approach. The course provides students with a fluid understanding of how each member is an integral part of the team, their overall responsibilities and how the Field Force Engineering teams support the operational picture.
"Completing the EnvST training ensures the basic and advanced technological capabilities are there, brings experiences and knowledge to everyone, while enhancing the team's capabilities and honing the skills necessary for success in future missions,” said Hunt.
During this year’s training, students received an overview of the Reachback Engineer Data integration (REDi) site. REDi provides a common database, mapping tool, and robust user interface for managing, tracking and archiving all data and reachback for the Field Force Engineering program. Additionally, with support from the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, the EnvST team revised its section on REDi to be more user-friendly.
In conjunction with classroom instruction, students were afforded field training on the tools and information available through the USACE Reachback Operations Center (UROC) and how base camp planning is integrated into the joint construction management system.
"Every time I attend or teach at this training, I am always impressed by the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience that exists across USACE,” said Eric Lam, environmental engineer, with USACE Fort Worth District. “The FFE training exists as a unique microcosm within the USACE ecosystem for everyone, students and instructors alike, to learn about the challenges and successes our federal/military deployers face every day. The connections and lessons learned provide a lot of value to my projects and missions back home."
The EnvST track delivered training elements across several focused areas supporting contingency operations and the war fighter. Training areas included:
- Environmental laws, regulations, and Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS) environmental baseline guidance
- Environmental law, regulations, and Inside the Continental United States (CONUS) environmental baseline guidance
- Water resources and testing
- Wastewater and solid waste treatment
- Hazardous waste requirements and storage management
- Activities prior to and during deployment
- Environmental tool kit for expeditionary operations
- Spill response and management
- Medical waste management
- Pesticides, asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) requirements
- Protection of cultural and natural resources
- Air quality
- Environmental sustainability considerations in base camp development
- Environmental impacts and preparation of an environmental baseline assessments and surveys for both OCONUS and CONUS activities
- Occupational and health surveillance and assessments
- Repurposing of base camps
“The FEST/EnvST training at the Readiness Support Center is well-structured and thorough while still offering engaging training for a critical USACE need,” said Cory Koger, senior chemist with USACE Sacramento District. “The facilitators are knowledgeable and can provide real-world context to the large amount of information covered in the training. Consider applying for the FEST/EnvST team as an opportunity to support USACE, the Army, and the DOD.”
Not only did this year’s training provide hands-on experience and facilitate face-to-face interactions with other Field Force Engineering teams, but it provided a platform for sharpening skillsets that can be utilized by team members back in their home stations as well.
Additional information on the Environmental Support Team available here.
Feedback from the Field:
“The exceptional quality of experience, dedication, and knowledge exercised by the students set the bar high as it does every year. Despite releasing students a couple days early due to COVID-19 concerns, the optimism and professionalism by each student further proved EnvST members are a great example of the high quality folks executing the mission throughout the Environmental Community of Practice.”
- Brian Wilson, Environmental Support Team Instructor, USACE Headquarters Environmental Division
"I’m really excited to be part of the Environmental Support Team. Attending the training was a great experience because I had the opportunity to get to know and work with brilliant people. The classroom lectures and the hands-on exercises really helped us to understand what is expected from us to accomplish our mission when deployed."
- Edith Martinez-Guerra, Environmental Engineer, U.S. Army Engineering Research and Development Center
“EnvST training was a great experience for me. Learning the process for doing environmental baseline surveys and evaluating field sites for military use showed me how my skills as a biologist are of value to the Army. It was also a great opportunity to talk with other folks in the class about their projects and learn more about what's going on across USACE. The hands-on aspect of the class was very useful and I look forward to applying those skills in the field.”
- David Oster, Environmental Resource Specialist, USACE New England District
“As far as the training, for me personally, it was a perfect refresher for a lot of the knowledge and experience I have already obtained and, at the same time, the training cadre mixed in a lot of "lessons learned" from their own experience(s); which helps relate the training to real-world EnvST missions. It very easily could have been seven straight days of PowerPoint, but the mix of field exercises broke up that monotony and reinforced the lessons being presented. I particularly liked the field exercise on the first day, because it helped set the stage for what was yet to come. As far as the new selectees, I feel that no two are alike. It is a very well rounded group with each individual adding their own mix of specialties, education, and knowledge/skills/abilities to the team.”
- Ivan Fannin, Biologist, USACE Charleston District