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Installations Must Be Ready for Emerging Threats

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Army Corps of Engineers
Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Army must have installations that are ready, modern and able to project lethal power wherever and whenever called upon, a senior Army leader recently told members of the House Armed Services Committee.

“As our installations evolve and rise in their importance to operations, emerging threats have simultaneously presented additional challenges to our installations,” said Alex Beehler, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, in prepared remarks for an October hearing before the HASC subcommittees on intelligence and readiness.

Threats to installations are generally categorized under three headings, Beehler said: cyber, physical and natural. He quoted the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which says that during conflict, “attacks against our critical defense, government, and economic infrastructure must be anticipated.”

While installations are prepared for physical attacks, supporting infrastructure such as water, energy and cybersecurity resources are much less likely to be able to prevent that possibility, Beehler said.

The consequences of extreme weather events are also a major concern for leaders, he said, particularly since it is likely the Army will be called upon to assist with humanitarian disaster relief.

“The Army is in the process of integrating cybersecurity into its overall installation management plans and guidance,” Beehler said, specifically for Facility-Related Control Systems that ensure reliable power for missions. A key accomplishment has been the establishment of a benchmark assessment system for risk and specific vulnerabilities at these locations.

To increase energy resilience, comprehensive assessment plans to help commands identify gaps and solutions are being developed at all Army installations. Beehler said the first set of these plans, which covers the top mission-critical priority installations, should be completed by the end of the calendar year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been developing “an interactive climate vulnerability assessment tool to evaluate the near-term vulnerability of Army installations” for extreme weather events, Beehler said. The tool, focused on specific threats such as coastal and riverine flooding, drought, desertification, wildfire and permafrost thaw, will be available to installations in early 2020.

“The Army’s 156 installations must be ready, secure, and capable of deploying and sustaining forces in contested environments, anytime and anywhere,” Beehler said.