By Rob McIlvaineOctober 14, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 13, 2011) -- To ready itself for the future, the Army is transforming installations and housing as well as its use of fuel, water and energy.
As part of the Army's Residential Communities Initiative, about 98 percent of Army family housing, at 44 locations now, has been privatized.
"We have successfully prioritized just about all of our Army housing -- about 89,000 homes," said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment. "We have also successfully remodeled barracks and we have constructed many new barracks for our single Soldiers."
Now the Army is focused on base lodging, to provide transient Soldiers and other visitors the same quality of life in temporary housing that's available in base housing.
"We will be privatizing our Army lodging, which is getting it up to current standards and providing the level of services that Soldiers and families in transition need," Hammack said, during a panel discussion Oct. 12, at the 2011 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.
Hammack's office also develops Army energy use management programs. She told attendees at the panel discussion the Army's focus on energy is changing and people are now realizing they have a stake in contributing to the success of the Army.
"This is certainly apparent in theater where if we reduce the amount of energy we use, this means fewer convoys, and fewer convoys mean fewer casualties, so it has a direct impact on the Soldier," she said.
Hammack also said that with budget tightening, better management of energy use on military installations stateside means freeing up money to do other things.
"Energy security" also plays a role in managing how the Army uses energy on its installations. On an Army installation, for instance, that means if the civilian power grid goes out, the Army can make enough of its own energy to sustain the mission there. Not being able to do so presents a security vulnerability. The Army is looking at renewable energy sources to prevent such vulnerabilities.
"We have an energy initiative task force that was recently stood up to help bring renewable energy onto our bases," Hammack said. "We're working with private sector to bring about $7 billion worth of investment (in energy projects) on Army bases, so if power goes out, the base is able to function."
"We have to manage the water that we use and that we re-use, and inject it back into the local aquifers so that we're not depleting clean water reservoirs, because right now, 98 percent of the water on this planet is non-potable," Hammack said.
The goal is noble -- it's "green." But more importantly, it helps the Army and it helps the warfighter.
"Only two percent is fresh water and of that two percent, only one percent is easily accessible. So if we don't appropriately manage our water resources, that is going to be a restriction on us, and a restriction on our ability to perform our primary mission," Hammack said.
Additionally, in operations like in Iraq and Afghanistan, water must often be transported by convoy, and those convoy's put Soldiers lives at risk. More efficient use of water, Hammack said, means less usage overall, fewer convoys and fewer lives lost.