In the previous post, When Woodpeckers Rule The World, we looked at one enviromental issue, among many, at one Army post.
Now to zoom out a bit, below are notes from an unclassified Army briefing entitled "Environmental Restrictions On Training". If something affects training, it affects readiness. If it affects readiness, it affects warfighting. If it affects warfighting, it affects national security. Keep those points in mind as you read on:
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Encroachment is any non-military activity which impacts on how we train.
Encroachment pressures come from many sources and individually, may not be cause for concern, but collectively, can cause major restrictions to Army training.
Encroachment limits the flexibility and capability of the installation to accommodate both live fire and maneuver training.
DOD, and more specifically, Army lands bear a disproportionate burden of threatened and endangered species and the Endangered Species Act does not provide any relief to account for training readiness requirements based on our national security mission.
The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service land holdings far exceed that of DOD. Yet, DOD lands have more threatened and endangered species than any other federal land holder.
On 6 Army installations, threatened or endangered species have caused the Army to alter where we train or the conditions under which we train. Most notable are the Red-cockaded Woodpecker impacts at Forts Bragg, Stewart, and Polk, and the desert tortoise impacts at Fort Irwin.
At Fort Lewis, where approximately 65% of the installation has been designated Critical Habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl, training has not yet been impacted, but the manner in which the installation manages its natural resources has been altered and eventually could impact training.
As habitats off post disappear due to urban encroachment, future impacts to training could get worse with military installations assuming an increased burden for recovery of threatened and endangered species.
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced their intent to regulate clean-up of unexploded ordnance and munitions on active and inactive ranges such as it had done at the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) where EPA region I used the Safe Drinking Water Act to halt most live fire training. The MMR is located on a sole source aquifer which services Cape Cod.
EPA has also indicated an intent to apply the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act on active and inactive ranges. Of concern to the Army is the fact that three of our installations are located on sole source aquifers and 7 of the 8 remaining major installations are located on aquifers that either provide or could be used to provide water to local communities.
Although this issue currently has little impact on the Army, were EPA to enforce CERCLA or RCRA on our active or inactive ranges, it would have an immediate and lasting impact on live fire and maneuver training since some training areas were once used as ranges and these are now classified as inactive ranges.
Currently, national airspace restrictions impact mainly the Air Force and Navy. Some Army installations do, however, experience frequent requests from the FAA to lift military airspace restrictions so that commercial flights can be rerouted. Such is the case at Fort Carson which had been receiving daily telephonic requests from the FAA.
Although this has little impact currently on Army installations, the future risk is uncertain and is based on various factors.
If fuel prices continue to rise, we can expect increased pressure from the FAA to encroach on restricted military airspace to reduce commercial airlines' fuel useage costs.
Also of concern is an initiative to review the air space leading into the Los Angeles Basin. This could eventually impact on the availiability of airspace to the National Training Center and the free flight nature of air sorties during NTC training rotations.
Visibility concerns have led to installations imposing strict dust control measures and the use of smoke is strictly regulated by some state enforcement agencies.
Forts Carson and Lewis and Pinion Canyon and Yakima Training Center have strict controls on the use of smoke and creation of dust from maneuver training. At Fort Lewis, for example, smoke can only be used under certain atmospheric conditions and for a very limited period of time.
Graphite smoke cannot be employed at 7 of our major training sites, two of these being the Joint Readiness Training Center and the National Training Center where we expect to train under near combat conditions employing all combat multipliers.
As civilian communities build to installation fencelines, conflicts arise with the civilian community over military training activities. The Army, being a good and accommodating neighbor, has altered training to accommodate community complaints.
Urbran growth is having an impact on training on Army installations. For example, a housing development on the southern boundary of Fort Bragg has caused the Army to halt Heavy Drop operations on St Mere Eglise Drop Zone since the houses are in the Heavy Drop safety zone.
We can expect increased pressure on our installations as communities conitinue to grow right up to installation fence lines.
Colorado Springs has become a major metropolitan area and two towns are starting to encroach the installation boundary from the southeast.
Urban growth around our installations leads to airborne noise complaints which include both noise from airborne sources and blast noise from weapons systems. Installations have voluntarily altered aviation flight routes, limited where, when and how much artillery can fire, and have initiated quiet hours to limit civilian noise complaints.
With the exception of Fort Irwin, all installations experience noise issues. The Engineer Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division has mentioned the limitation on demolitions imposed due to noise complaints as a training distractor in the Unit Status Report. Fort Carson was forced to defend a law suit by a local land developer who claimed that tank firing noise had increased so much that it had deflated the value of property he owned adjacent to the eastern boundry of the installation.
As urban growth around our installations continues, we can expect increased noise complaints and pressure to alter how and when we train.
The ability of outside agencies, commonly referred to as stakeholders, to influence how Army land is managed and used for training has increased dramatically in recent years. Federal and state regulatory agencies, special interest groups, the media, local communities and Native American groups all take a vested and active interest in the management of our installations.
How the Army uses and manages its land holdings is influenced by outside agencies and we can expect increased scrutiny by outside agencies, especially special interest groups in the future. As special interest groups achieve successes in influencing how the military uses land, such as was done on Viequez Island to the Navy, we can expect actions directed against Army installations.
It is important we develop good outreach programs with stakeholders to protect our ability to train in the future.
Maritime sustainability, dealing with the marine laws and the marine mammal act, does not directly impact any Army installation. The main impacts are to the Navy and Marines. However, the 7th Transportation Brigade must abide by appropriate laws during its operations which could impact their training, especially joint logistics over the shore type operations.
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Enviro-Assault On National Security: A Case Study