Earth Day 2006: DoD Committed to Environmental Conservation
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 21, 2006 As it joins in the celebration of Earth Day 2006 tomorrow, the Defense Department is committed to conserving and improving the environment, while still accomplishing its mission of maintaining the nation's military readiness, a DoD official said here today.
The global war on terror presents the U.S. with an agile, unpredictable enemy, so DoD's focus must be on the warfighter, Alex Beehler, assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for environment, safety and occupational health, said. The best way to help the warfighter is to ensure the department has the natural resources to test weapons systems and train its forces by ensuring military installations and the surrounding communities remain viable, he said. In this way, military readiness and environmental conservation are inextricably linked.
"It is imperative that we manage our assets in a sustainable manner so we can support the warfighter not only today, but also tomorrow and into the future," Beehler said.
All branches of service will be celebrating Earth Day this year.
The Air Force has had activities all week, starting April 19 with an Earth Day display in the Pentagon. Today, the Air Force cleaned up a stretch of roadside and sidewalk on Army Navy Drive, adjacent to the Pentagon. The Air Force has also conducted promotions and sent e-mails to staff encouraging participation in Earth Day.
Air Force installations across the country are conducting their own Earth Day activities, which include school presentations, tree planting and fundraisers.
The Army's Earth Day theme is "sustaining the environment for a secure future." About 200 Army major commands, installations and organizations around the world are celebrating Earth Day with a focus on sustaining the environment to preserve natural resources for future generations, according to the Army's 2006 Earth Day message.
"To achieve mission success, soldiers today and for generations to come need the right resources," the statement, signed by Army chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker and Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey, read. "Paramount among them is the availability and quality of natural assets that provide effective training areas and support healthy communities in which to live and work. Every day our soldiers use these assets to remain ready to defend the nation, and it is our responsibility to protect our environment."
The Navy will mark Earth Day 2006 by reaffirming its commitment to protecting the nation's air, land and sea resources, which are essential to the health, safety and defense of all Americans, according to a Navy news release. The Navy has several upcoming environmental stewardship efforts.
On May 3, the fiscal 2005 Secretary of the Navy Environmental Awards will be presented to 19 Navy and Marine Corps individuals, teams, installations and ships for their environmental achievements. On May 17, the Oriskany, a retired aircraft carrier that saw service during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, is scheduled to be sunk off the coast of Florida to create an artificial reef that benefits marine life, fishing and recreational diving.
May 26, the USNS Sacagawea, the second of the new T-AKE class of cargo ammunition ships, is scheduled to be launched. These ships incorporate new and innovative pollution-prevention systems to minimize environmental effects.
The Marine Corps will partner with schools nationwide to promote Earth Day and environmental responsibility.
"Environmental stewardship and defense readiness go hand -in hand for the nearly 900,000 men and women of the United States Navy and Marine Corps," Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter said in a prepared Earth Day statement. "Our unwavering commitment to our mission sustains our environment and national security on Earth Day and every day."