By Paula M. Fitzgerald/ParaglideJanuary 28, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Representatives from more than 40 Army installations gathered at the Fort Bragg Officers' Club Jan. 12 through 14, to discuss issues concerning sustainability.
The five main functional areas of discussion centered on plans and integration, infrastructure and utilities, transportation, material lifecycle management, and training lands and land management.
More than a decade ago, Fort Bragg spearheaded the Army's first sustainability campaign and has since led the way for other installations to jump on board. The in-progress review brought together the leaders who are in charge of ensuring sustainability at each installation. Participants shared a number of lessons learned, listened to success and failure stories from their counterparts, and discussed new ideas that could be incorporated in future, Army-wide policies and procedures.
Fort Bragg was chosen to host the IPR because of its award-winning sustainability efforts. The base won the Secretary of the Army Sustainability Award in 2009. Officials from other installations had the opportunity to see firsthand some of the base's many projects and initiatives.
"So what is the definition of sustainability'," asked Tad Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army (environment, safety and occupational health). "It's the future. It's the vision of what is to come. It's us looking 20 or 30 or 40 years down the road to visualize what the situation will be like for our Soldiers. We have to start now to ensure that we can get where we want to go in the future."
In other words, sustainability is finding a balance among the pillars of the Army's triple bottom line plus, which are mission, community, environment and economic benefit. Participants at the IPR discussed how to best use the resources allotted to each installation without unnecessary waste or overuse. Suggestions and challenges will be passed on to the headquarters, Department of the Army for additional assistance.
Davis said there are two parallel levels of sustainability that must be in line with one another. The first is the "grassroots level," which involves the actions and policies carried out at the installation level. The second is the "department level," which is the entire Department of the Army. This upper echelon reinforces and develops the guidance and policies for the sustainment of the entire Army. The department level ensures that everyone is on the same page with the same goals for the future.
"By utilizing this rare opportunity, the IPR presents to its fullest intent - by looking at sustainability through the lens of the Army triple bottom line of mission, community and environment - together we can drive the evolution of the Army, creating a more sustainable Army community with not only the resources necessary to train, deploy and fight successfully in protection of our national interests, but the flexibility and vision to adapt to any new challenge we encounter," said Col. Stephen J. Sicinski, Fort Bragg garrison commander, in a video. The colonel could not attend the forum because of a previously scheduled trip to Washington, D.C. However, in the video he clearly laid out his hopes for the participants at the IPR.
During the three-day forum, representatives from as far away as Germany discussed encroachment issues, training restrictions, energy demands and costs, overextended workforces, waste disposal, working with outside communities, maintenance of aging infrastructures, transportation requirements, as well as a wide range of other topics concerning sustainability.
"This has been a great opportunity to share and learn some of the best ways to implement strategic planning where sustainability is concerned," said Lorie Khatod, a representative from U.S. Army Garrison in Wiesbaden, Germany. "One thing I learned from being here is that we have to look outside to the community and work together to reach some of our goals. We can work with the German government to develop and implement some of the best business practices for sustainability."
Khatod said she was impressed by some of the initiatives developed by Fort Bragg to bring together both the military and surrounding civilian communities.
The Sustainable Sandhills program is an example that highlights Fort Bragg's commitment to working with civilian governments to protect the area's shared resources.
"Our job now is to protect what we have so that we can make sure that Soldiers 150 years from now can get their missions accomplished," said Mike Lynch, Fort Bragg's director of plans, training and mobilization.
"That's the point of all of this - to make sure the Soldiers and their Families and the people of America are taken care of."