Reports from AUSA's Installations Symposium: 27-29 April 2009  


Army Official Expects Budget to Decline

The Army budget peaked at $252 billion in 2008, but Lt. Gen. Robert E. Durbin cautioned installation officials that the size of future budgets will decline.

“We’re not going to have the same resources in years to come,” said Durbin, special assistant to the chief of staff of the Army for enterprise management, at the Association of the United States Army’s Installations Symposium and Exposition in Kansas City, Mo.

As the Army transforms under the Army Force Generation model, it will be up to installation managers to “provide essential ingredients” to support soldiers and their families.

“Individual adaptation will lead to institutional adaptation,” Durbin said.  It will come down to “how effective you can be in supporting the Army Family Covenant and apply money that’s best for soldiers and their families.”

They must embrace the enterprise approach to get the best return and best value, he said.

Army Sets Energy Initiatives Milestones

While the new administration appears to be embracing “green” technologies and alternative energy resources, the Army has been exploring energy initiatives with a program that began in 2005 that targets milestones set for 2015.

About two-thirds of the Army’s energy consumption goes to facilities, and officials set a standard in 2005 of reducing energy intensity at a rate of 3 percent a year for 10 years, or 30 percent overall by 2015.  And the Army is already well ahead of that goal – energy consumption was reduced by 10.4 percent last year, said Craig E. College, the Army’s deputy assistant chief of staff for installation management.

“This is no longer an ‘if,’ it’s a ‘how,’” College told attendees at an Association of the United States Army symposium and exhibition in Kansas City, Mo.

The Army, however, has not reached its goals in renewable energy and advanced metering, and College said “there’s a lot of catching up to do.”

With advanced metering, buildings 29,000 square feet and over would have meters installed to identify, in real time, large increases in energy consumption, and installation commanders would be able to address the issues, College said.  Metering would also provide information to Army Installation Management Command headquarters to see what is and isn’t working in the Army energy program.

While metering and starting programs for solar and wind energy are complex, College identified 15 areas that installation officials could take home and implement at no cost or very minimal cost.  These are fairly common sense items to “change soldier and civilian behavior” when it comes to saving energy.  It includes simple things like turning off computers and other electronic items if they are not being used, replacing incandescent lights with energy saving lights, and turning off vehicles to avoid idling.

“Sometimes the low-tech solutions are the most logical,” said L. Jerry Hansen, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategic infrastructure.

James P. Miller, a mechanical engineer with the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), said teams are visiting 12 to 15 installations every year to outline funding and propose energy projects from “no cost or low cost” to projects larger in scope.  In the past, they have identified inadequate maintenance that increases kilowatt hours and BTUs.  Renovation projects have also been noted for being undertaken solely “for appearance sake” and failure to account for energy conservation.

Heating and cooling systems as well as lighting controls were also identified as “too simple or complex or just plain broken,” Miller said. 

From February to April, a “Tiger Team” visited Fort Bliss, Texas, to address installation-wide energy enhancement.  The post was targeted because of the rapid growth that is taking place because of Base Realignment and Closure decisions, and the team looked at improving energy services, improving effective use of energy and enhancing energy security.

The Army has also emphasized saving fuel since the mid-1990s, “but the cost of fuel is rising at a higher rate than we’re saving,” Hansen said.  “We really need to be a lot more creative” in finding ways to reduce fuel consumption.

Improving efficiency across all platforms is also important, not just simply reducing consumption, Hansen said.  The Department of Defense and other federal agencies are also working closely together to share their best practices and solutions.