Army installations need to step up defenses against a combination of new and emerging threats, according to a new Rand Corp. report that warns traditional physical security, antiterrorism and emergency preparedness won’t be enough to provide safe outposts.
The No. 1 priority of Gen. James McConville, the 40th chief of staff of the Army, is people.
There is a lot of room for improvement in military medical treatment facilities and programs, the DoD inspector general says in a report tied to the transition of hospitals and clinics away from the services and into the Defense Health Agency.
That transition is already underway, but the effort has stalled because of concerns in the services and Congress about timing.
The Army’s installation commanders are focused on safety as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis—a challenge that does not have a “one-size-fits-all solution,” a top general said.
“We’re dug in but continuing to fight,” Lt. Gen. Doug Gabram, commanding general of Army Installation Management Command, said during a virtual media roundtable on April 15.
Gabram’s advice to installation commanders: “Protect yourself so you can protect the force and the force can protect the nation.”
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.
Those who manage the Army’s installations must move quickly to close gaps in vulnerability, modernize management practices and facilities, and automate where possible, said a panel of experts at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.
Carrying through with a promise made earlier this year, the Total Army Sponsorship Program is expanding for relocating soldiers, civilians and accompanying families.
Under the new rules, the receiving unit must assign sponsors to assist enlisted soldiers who are E-6 and below, those who are chief warrant officer 2 and below, and officers who are O-3 and below. First-term soldiers are required to accept a command sponsor, but other soldiers may decline if they wish.
The Army has told Congress that 10 installations face “climate-related threats,” but rising sea levels isn’t the biggest problem. Drought is the primary concern.
Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper, replying to a question from the Senate Armed Services Committee, said desertification is the threat at nine installations. Only one, Military Ocean Terminal Concord in California, is threated by riverine flooding.
Desertification is the loss of water, vegetation and wildlife that can result from overuse of soil, usage by farming, and from drought.
Army installations, once isolated and self-reliant outposts of the pre-World War II nation, are now part of the highly contested national security battlespace that need to be modernized and hardened, said Alex A. Beehler, assistant Army secretary for installations, energy and environment.
“Installation operations are more crucial today than ever before to protect our nation and our way of life,” Beehler said.
The Trump administration’s nominee to serve as assistant Army secretary for installations, energy and environment says predictable, adequate, sustained and timely funding is needed to improve Army posts and installations.