FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Fort Huachuca's range control personnel are always working toward the future. They continue to look for new, innovative approaches to ensure the range is sustainable down the road. That's one reason why the division was recently awarded the Tier III Sustainable Range Program award for fiscal year 2008/2009.

This is the first time Fort Huachuca has received the honor. At the same time it's also the first time range control submitted information to compete for the award.

"It's a big award and pat on the back for our guys and what they're doing," said Scott Miller, chief of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security's Training Division.

In order to win the award, range control and Integrated Training Area Management had to explain what they've done to sustain and modernize the range, the innovate approaches they have taken to ensure the range is sustainable for the future and what they've done to partner with other agencies. Miller explains there were five categories for the award; integrated management approaches, training readiness and capabilities enhancement, range and land sustainability, information excellence and SRP innovation.

Integrated management approaches are basically what the range has done. During fiscal year 2008 and 2009, range control saved $247,000, according to Bill Hooper, range control officer, by using military manpower to do the dirt work on the urban operation site.

"Rather than go through DPW (Directorate of Public Works) to have the dirt work done, we used military manpower that came from a Marine reserve unit out of Tucson," Hooper adds.

The approach not only saved the Army money, but it also helped the Marine unit train; Miller says it was a win/win situation for everyone involved in the project.

Range control also made a few improvements to enhance the Soldiers' training and capabilities. The only training requirement range control is not meeting is the .50 caliber qualification. Currently Soldiers have to travel to Fort Bliss, Texas to meet that qualification. So the department asked for money to meet that requirement. In December, range control will receive a deployable range kit to meet the .50 caliber qualification requirements.

"That was one example of us partnering with our customers, [we] find out what their needs are and then [react] to that," Miller says.

Range control recently upgraded range 4, the combat pistol qualification course. Previously it had 1950s and 1960s technology. There were toggle switches and manual scoring. Miller said it was terrible. After listening to comments from after-action reviews, the division went to higher headquarters and justified their need for an upgrade.

"Now we have a new 15-lane combat pistol course that's less than a year old," says Miller.

Division personnel did a lot of work throughout 2008/2009 on land sustainability. One of the main projects included turning range-related debris into green targets. Hooper said they removed rusted-out debris from the range and recycled it. They then used the money from the metal to purchase green targets, which are environmentally friendly, at a cost savings to the installation.

ITAM funded an erosion control abatement project on some of the ranges that had been experiencing maneuver trail damage from training events and rain.

"We funded a project to go in and install some ditches and re-route some water. That really has helped a lot, especially this year with all the rain we've had," said Pam Landin, ITAM coordinator.

That's what the sustainable range project is all about, to sustain training into the future. If you trash the landscape and don't go back and re-habit or maintain it, then the Soldiers are going to lose that area for training," says Landin.

Another reason the division was awarded the Tier III SRP award was for their work on information excellence. Range control worked with the Network Enterprise Command and United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence to use a share point website to get information out to the public about range control and ITAM.

"We'd get a lot of frequently asked questions and now we can just point them to this website and they can figure it out on their own," Miller added.

Another initiative that Fort Huachuca's range control takes is coupling ITAM with its range certification class. ITAM discusses environmental issues so it gives the Soldiers a bigger picture as to why an area on the range may be restricted.

"Training and ITAM go together and that's been a goal of the Army. That's what we're trying to establish here right from the get-go when they get to Fort Huachuca. They should understand that training and training management go hand and hand," said Hooper.

The fifth initiative is SRP innovation. This is something range control implemented to save time, money or ensure things are done a little better. During fiscal year 2008/2009 range control modified range 6, the known distance range.

Previously, the range sat empty for most of the year because it was only used for the Marine Corps known distance qualification, which Miller says is different from the Army's qualification standards.

"We modified the range such that we can still use it for its intended purpose, but we can also do zero qualifications on it and we can do advance rifle marksmanship on it as well. So one range covers three or four different types of disciplines," Miller explains.

Fort Huachuca's range control received the award Aug. 17 at, the training support system workshop in Chicago, Ill., and Miller accepted it on behalf of the installation.