BRAC focuses on environmental system

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle
  • Air Force Print News
Transformational Air Force environmental programs focus on an a system that identifies an installation's natural infrastructure, places value on the compatible use of shared assets, and prevents airfield encroachment through an informed planning and decision process.

The Operational Asset Management system will be applied to the Base Realignment and Closure decisions to be made later this year, with principles for BRAC implementation being developed by the secretary of defense.

“We see BRAC as another step forward in terms of maintaining our operational assets by realigning (missions) to maximize our operational efficiency," said Maureen T. Koetz, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force installations, environment and logistics. "This puts us in a better position to ensure that economic, ecological and community values are taken into account when we engage in our disposition process.”

Over the last 20 years, the Air Force environmental management has evolved from information gained from past BRACs.

For gaining installations, the Air Force will prepare the base infrastructure to receive the additional missions and people. For closing installations, the Air Force gives back to the community a set of assets that has been managed by the Air Force over the years, officials said.

From an environmental compliance perspective, this means the Air Force will carry on any restoration activities that are needed to maintain or continue to bring the Air Force in compliance with environmental codes, she said.

"We will use the full range of tools developed since the first BRAC rounds and balance the asset equity and cost of clean-ups," said Ms. Koetz, much like communities have been doing with Brownfield redevelopment.

Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.

The Air Force will satisfy environmental restoration responsibilities and balance restoration goals with economic reuse within the local communities, Ms. Koetz said.

Closed installations deemed by BRAC to no longer have a mission value for the Air Force still hold value for the local community.

"These (recommended closure installations) are in a position where, although the military value is going away, they still have an economic and environmental value to the local communities," Ms. Koetz said. "For example, both operating bases and (closure) bases have ecological value in critical habitat, open space, water resources, wet lands and community value for recreational activities.

Past BRAC rounds have led to success stories for local communities.

"Over the past decade, we've seen private sector entities become much more interested in going back and acquiring these properties for their use," Ms. Koetz said. "Overall, we have 93 percent of the past BRAC properties in reuse."

The Air Force mission needs are the focus for the environmental system and through this round of BRAC, she said.

“The key to understanding how we want to go forward in the future is that we will maintain the mission value at our enduring bases," she said. "For (any closure) bases, we will try to optimize those economic and ecological community values as we go through the disposition process.”