WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 18, 2014) – The Army is focused on being a good steward of resources to enhance energy security and protect the mission, a top Army leader said.
Army training and operations can be impacted by changes in climate or with disruptions to the power supply, said Katherine Hammack, the assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment.
Hammack spoke in an interview that aired Wednesday afternoon on Federal News Radio.
With those challenges in mind, the Army is seeking out renewable energy sources, and testing out net-zero practices in energy, water, and waste, she said.
“When we get things in balance, then we’re able to preserve the mission that we have, we’re able to do the kinds of training and testing that we need our lands for,” she said.
Variations in rain can impact the Army’s mission and training. For example, if it’s too dry, the Army might not want to use ranges because of the potential of fires.
“Climate change really does have an impact on the Army mission,” she said.
The changes in climate will shape the operating environment of the Army and its roles and mission, she said, noting that those changes can act as “accelerants of instability or conflict” around the world.
As part of the strategy to secure the mission and mission effectiveness, the Army is adapting to the challenges. Examples cited include building a structure at a higher elevation or farther from a shoreline.
In addition to adapting, Hammack said, the Army is looking to mitigate effects of climate change through use of renewable energy or reducing water use.
For example, in Georgia, the Army is working with Georgia Power to build about 100 megawatts of renewable energy on Army bases in Georgia and sell it to the Army at the same price as brown power, she said.
“That’s going to increase the resiliency of the installation; that’s going to go toward climate change mitigation and it’s going to help levelize the cost,” she said. “We’ve seen volatile utility costs that are dependent upon the costs of fossil fuels.”
She also mentioned Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where a solar array park is being built.
These are all important steps in protecting the Army mission. The efforts also alleviate stress on local utilities and allow more power to be available to the community, she said.
“It increases the resiliency of our installations,” she said. “It provides some mitigation against the effects of climate change; it’s good for this nation.”
Besides being a good steward of resources to protect the Army and surrounding communities, the Army also has to consider the endangered species that live on Army lands.
“It’s amazing that the Army has stewardship over 192 endangered species, many of which are only found on Army installations,” she said.