HUMPHREYS GARRISON, South Korea, July 28, 2011 -- The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment made an appearance in South Korea this week to get a better idea on how garrisons here can reduce the amount of energy used and increase operating efficiencies.

Katherine Hammack visited Garrisons Yongsan, Daegu, Red Cloud and Camp Carroll, South Korea, but spent a significant amount of time at Camp Humphreys, the Army’s only 21st century garrison.

Her main message: “Energy efficiency is mission critical.”

“The purpose of my visit is to better understand the Yongsan Relocation Plan and [get an idea of] the growth opportunities here,” she said Tuesday. “Certainly one of the things we’re focused on is reducing our footprint in Korea and moving out of some of the high cost areas in Seoul.”

Hammack mentioned the relocation to Humphreys is a significant advance in the effort to reduce the Army’s footprint in Korea because it groups soldiers and like missions together. The result of this would be an increase in efficiencies she said, because services can be isolated to fewer areas.

“If we reduce the number of bases we have, then we need fewer personnel” she said. “One child development center, one [Post Exchange] instead of multiple [means less people are needed]. This is right thing to do in budget-constrained environment.”

Camp Humphreys is perhaps one of the leading bases in what Hammack calls “going green.” She mentioned going green involves three areas: energy, water and waste. The idea is that if the Army reduces the first two, the third will subsequently be reduced as well.

“The opportunity here is that every building is built to an energy-efficient, water-efficient design with a look toward how much waste we generate,” she said. “If we can reduce the amount of waste we generate we don’t have to put waste into landfills, so recycling must certainly be a big part of it.”

Addressing the cost involved in relocating to Humphreys, Hammack mentioned that in many cases energy efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean increased cost. Better windows and insulation would decrease the use of air conditioning, she said. And putting windows in the right places eliminates the need to use indoor lighting during the day.

In some cases, she said, construction costs are decreased in this way as well, and that is the goal with construction at Humphreys. Although this does nothing to avoid the cost of building numerous new buildings over a short period, she said individual Soldiers can help mitigate expenses.

The simplest way, she said is for Soldiers to turn off lights and air conditioning before leaving.

“Those who have deployed know [that energy efficiency is mission critical,” said Hammack. “Missions in Iraq and Afghanistan depend on fuel convoys. Right now, one third of our casualties there have to do with convoy operations. Seventy percent of convoy weight is water or fuel. So energy and appropriately managing energy is critical to the Army mission.”

Hammack said her visit to Korea was necessary because an up-close and personal experience in Korea would enable her to better represent the mission and goals of the Army in Korea to Congress. She perceived from talking to Soldiers here that bringing families to Korea is a high priority for them. Therefore, the consolidation involved in the relocation plan would not only reduce the energy footprint in Korea but also get Soldiers here closer to the reality of bringing their families.