IMCOM talks ‘hot topics’ at forum

| March 20, 2015 | 0 Comments
Hammack

Hammack

J.D. Leipold
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — The assistant secretary of the Army (installations, energy and environment) opened the Association of the U.S. Army’s “Hot Topics” forum on installation management, March 10, by telling the packed house about what she had recently testified before the House Appropriations Committee.

“We know that degraded readiness makes it difficult for us to provide for the common defense,” said Katherine Hammack. “The Budget Control Act creates risk for sending insufficiently trained and under-equipped Soldiers into harm’s way – and that is not a risk this nation should accept.

“I would be negligent if I didn’t talk about Army Installation Management and the need for another round of BRAC. … We need another round of base realignment and closure in 2017, and although our need for a BRAC is more exposed by the downsizing of the Army’s force structure, it is really a way to manage infrastructure that is left over from World War II when we were an Army of 8 million,” she said. “As we shrink to an Army of 490,000 or smaller, we see a growth in excess infrastructure.”

Hammack said that with an Army of 490,000 active duty Soldiers, excess infrastructure lays at 18 percent. Excess infrastructure will get larger as the Army’s population gets smaller – 475,000 Soldiers by the end of 2016, down to 450,000 by the end of 2017.

Lt. Gen. David D. Halverson, commander, Installation Management Command, later said, “There are other looming concerns. … A near-term threat to our effectiveness is sequestration. … It can’t be ignored. The Army has been on a tight budget for a few years. … Fiscal year 2015 doesn’t look any better.”

Halverson

Halverson

Halverson said training would be underfunded, which would result in decreased training levels. Soldier and family readiness programs would be weakened and investments in installation training and readiness facility upgrades would affect long-term readiness.

He added that base operations support, sustainment, restoration and maintenance funding levels do not allow the Army to fix everything.

Hammack had testified about the shortfall, saying the Army had a $3 billion maintenance backlog and 5,500 major work orders because of reduced sustainment funding in 2013 and 2014.

“Fiscal year 2016 is a breaking point for our Army,” said Halverson, adding that it would be difficult for the Army to lead around the world because installations have bills to pay and utility costs are the largest expense other than civilian pay.

He cited a few examples of those costs: Fort Bliss, Texas, has a water bill of about $200,000 per month. Fort Bragg, North Carolina, spends nearly $3 million monthly on electricity, and the power bill at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, runs a staggering $5.2 million monthly.

In all, the Army consumes about $1.3 billion a year for utilities, he said.

Hammack said the Army was not just standing still over utility costs, but was working to manage those costs and operations, installation energy, as well as resiliency and sustainability through partnering – one of which is the utility energy savings performance contract that allows private industry to invest on Army installations to make improvements in energy efficiency at no cost to the Army.

“The Army has the most robust energy savings performance contract in the federal government. Over $2.2 billion in private-sector capital has been invested in improving the efficiency on installations since the program started in the late 1990s,” she said.

In the last five months, the Army Office of Energy Initiatives launched a 28-megawatt biomass system on Fort Drum, New York, and the largest solar array in the Department of Defense at 18 megawatts on Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

She said there were another 12 projects in the pipeline, with the potential for more than 400 megawatts at one site, while Fort Benning, Georgia, will soon break ground on a 30-megawatt solar array.

“These are some of the energy partnerships that we have – innovative partnering, leveraging private-sector expertise, leveraging private-sector funding and … delivering at or below the cost of conventional energy,” said Hammack, adding that Office of Energy Initiatives has not only resulted in energy efficiency, but water efficiency, energy security and small-scale renewable energy investment.

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Category: Army News Service, Installation Management Command, News

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