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American Forces Press Service

Readiness, Environment Missions 'Closely Intertwined'

By Terri Lukach
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2005 Sustaining readiness and taking care of the environment are not separate realms but twin missions in the same cause, DoD’s top readiness official said.

“Generating and sustaining military readiness and preserving and enhancing our precious natural environments are inextricably linked,” Paul Mayberry, deputy undersecretary of defense for readiness, told a conference of environmental managers and DoD officials here April 12. “The readiness job is not uniquely mine nor that of our field commanders, and the job of taking care of the environment on our ranges and installations is not uniquely yours.

“We have all come to realize,” he said, “that as far as military training goes, readiness and environmental responsibilities are closely intertwined and cannot be separated. Range sustainment makes us all responsible for keeping our forces ready and for protecting the environmental resources entrusted to our care. Our missions are inseparable.”

Mayberry said the mission today is “to prepare our forces for any calling by our commander in chief.” Changing battlefield conditions, he said, require that we develop new environments like complex urban settings, replicate a diversity of conditions such as high altitude and cold weather, and even respond to unique challenges such as frequency spectrum management and interplay with local communities.

In a security environment characterized by uncertainty and surprise, Mayberry said, live training and testing must remain the cornerstone of readiness.

The future will add complexity, he said, as DoD seeks to generate new and greater capabilities demanding increasingly larger battlespaces, even though existing ranges are already strained.

Mayberry outlined several “guiding principles” to serve as the foundation for maintaining what he called the “symbiotic balance between national security and environmental sustainment.”

“First,” he said, “our range sustainment efforts must be fundamentally based on partnerships … between operators and environmental mangers, between training and testing communities, and between those who face these issues daily in the field and policymakers in Washington.

“Second, to get beyond the emotions of the debate, we must ground our decisions in science.

“The third guiding principle,” he said, “is that workarounds, while sounding reasonable and feasible, cannot sacrifice realistic combat training. This is the analogy to death by a thousand paper cuts.”

Mayberry said that while, in some cases, there are and have been feasible training workarounds, all too often they chip away at the basic fabric and underpinnings of training objectives.

“Where once a battalion could train, now only a company-level event can be conducted. What was once a live-fire range is not restricted to inert ordnance with further limits on what time of year such firings can be conducted, and no longer any nighttime exercises. What was once unrestricted access to outlying landing fields are now constrained to specific approach and departure corridors within constrained altitude limits.”

Because U.S. forces fight like they train, Mayberry said, well-intentioned workarounds could have adverse consequences.

He said ultimately each installation or range must identify its own unique challenges, conduct its own research, build its own coalitions and partnerships, and plot its own course of action to protect its mission and cement its proper place in the local community.

We can give you the “guidance, tools and resources to help you do your jobs the right way,” Mayberry told the conference audience, “but your boots on the ground are what really makes it happen.”

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