2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Aimee Houghton <aimeeh@cpeo.org>
Date: 17 May 2002 19:41:39 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] DOD: The Emerging Disconnect Between Policy and Practice
Yesterday I attended the Government Reform Committee's hearing "Critical Challenges Confronting National Security -- Continuing Encroachment Threatens Forces Readiness."

The military defines encroachment as a number of things that adversely impact their ability to train their troops and maintain readiness. These include environmental regulations such as the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, RCRA, CERCLA, the Clean Air Act, Noise Control, Radio Frequency, Night Training, Urban Sprawl, etc.

In their written testimony the DOD Deputy Under Secretaries for Readiness and Installations and Environment (Mr. Mayberry and Mr. BuBois, respectively) stated that DOD's response to encroachment was: "The Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative (RRPI). In many ways this policy runs counter to a lot of what was said by uniformed personnel who also testified.

To be sure, all DOD witnesses stated that environmental regulations impacted training and that work arounds were becoming more and more difficult. However when asked directly by the committee what they saw as the biggest issue in the future of readiness training one officer, without hesitating, said urbanization was the biggest threat to readiness. He observed that urbanization has second and third tier effects that subsequently impact training but the root cause was sprawl. He further stated that unless that problem was addressed the military would be in serious trouble.

When asked if they could rank their greatest encroachment concerns another uniformed officer answered: "night vision training and live fire training." Once again, environmental regulations were not cited. What is it that affects night vision training? Sprawl. Development comes so close to a base that practicing night maneuvers is no longer possible because of the lighting at strip malls, on residential streets, highways, etc.

The live fire training issue was more in regards to the number of ranges available for training as opposed to actual environmental restrictions. One could argue that range availability is impacted by environmental restrictions, however one could also argue that range availability has been impacted by a decrease in actual ranges. It would be interesting to see how many ranges were lost due to base closures in the BRAC rounds. At that time was the Pentagon thinking about how the loss of ranges might impact them in the future? I know of one case, Fort Pickett, where the Army had a range that was not impacted by sprawl or ESA yet it was closed. How many other times did this happen? I'm not looking to place blame but simply wondering out loud if there was any thought to range needs while base closure decisions were being made.

Clearly, one case being made by uniformed personnel was that urbanization is a major problem for the military (as it is for the rest of the country). However in the next panel, comprised of DOD policy-makers, that issue was never addressed. The policy answer seemed to lie in changing legislation. But the legislative changes that DOD is proposing do not address the root cause of their problems. For me the disconnect was obvious, but not so for DOD nor Congress. DOD is proposing a short term solution to a problem that will be with them for the rest of their existence. Not to address that issue at a policy level is to do a disservice to the very men and women DOD talks about protecting with this legislative change.

Finally, when asked about work arounds one uniformed officer talked about how at Fort Campbell (I believe it was Fort Campbell) there was a critical habitat designation and some times during the year they did not have access to that land. Instead of "working around" they incorporate it into their training. The area becomes a school, hospital, residential neighborhood, etc. that they need to maneuver around and avoid. This, to me, in light of some of the fighting that took place in Afghanistan, is quite realistic


Please note new phone number and address below.
Aimee R. Houghton
Associate Director, CPEO
1101 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC  20036
tel: 202-452-8039; fax: 202-452-8095
Email: aimeeh@cpeo.org

  Prev by Date: Re: [CPEO-MEF] GAO: "Encroachment" Not Affecting Readiness
Next by Date: [CPEO-MEF] Army accused of hiding plans
  Prev by Thread: Re: [CPEO-MEF] GAO: "Encroachment" Not Affecting Readiness
Next by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] Army accused of hiding plans

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index