FORT DEVENS, Mass. (Oct. 29, 2014) – In her first official visit here Oct. 21, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment pointed to U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Devens as a model for “productive reuse” of former active Army posts.
“As we look at the Army inventory and consider another round of Base Realignment and Closure, (we’re) looking at models of how bases can be productively reused,” Katherine Hammack said. “And in this case, it’s to benefit the Army Reserve; it’s to the benefit of some of our testing commands, (such as) Natick Labs, (which) does work here.
“And it’s good to see other services — whether it’s FBI or Guard units or police — all have beneficial reuse.”
Fort Devens closed after 79 years as an active Army installation on March 31, 1996, re-emerging the following day as the Devens Reserve Forces Training Area. In May 2007, it became U.S. Army Garrison Fort Devens. Its current mission is to serve as a training resource for thousands of Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers spread throughout the six New England states.
“If you want to conduct maneuver training, or if you need classroom buildings or weapons qualification ranges, we’re one of the only games in town,” Lt. Col. Steve Egan, the USAG-Fort Devens commander, told Hammack. “We have a lot of throughput and conduct a significant amount of training here.”
Fort Devens features 26 training areas, 25 ranges and 27 training facilities, including an active drop zone. It also boasts 16 web-enabled classrooms, with 700 networked computer stations. An average weekend finds 2,000 Soldiers training here.
The installation’s ranges can accommodate weapons from sidearms through the M-240 machine gun, as well as grenades, mortars and demolitions.
“I’m impressed with the ranges,” Hammack said. “You are doing a great job in improving ranges, keeping them current, and that improves the capabilities of all of our Soldiers. So that’s a great thing to see.”
Ray Prisk, Fort Devens director of Public Works, briefed Hammack on energy and environmental initiatives, which include an emphasis on developing renewable energy sources such as geothermal, ground source heat pumps, and fuel cells.
“By 2020, we have in motion all the actions we need to break the net zero requirement by 2025,” Prisk told her. “That’s the bottom line.”
Outside the gates, land once owned by the installation before Base Realignment and Closure now bristles with successful businesses.
“That is great, productive reuse that benefits the community,” Hammack said. “So, sometimes the story is not told that there is life after active Army reorganized, that there’s great use for the community and the Reserve Components.”