Pentagon Ties Strategy to Installation Decisions, Official Says
By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 8, 2012 The Defense Department is working to ensure that it has the right makeup of forces and facilities in strategic locations, and that includes moving U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam, a senior official told a congressional panel.
Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, spoke about the Guam move and other items reflected in the department’s fiscal 2013 budget request before the House Appropriations Committee’s military construction subcommittee yesterday.
“The department must have the right mix of forces and facilities at strategic locations,” Robyn said in prepared remarks. Her office ensures that joint planning and rigorous analysis goes into decisions about the basing of troops and facilities, she told the panel. “We also seek to reduce our installation footprint wherever possible,” she said.
The Defense Department’s new strategic guidance calls for rebalancing forces with a focus toward the Asia-Pacific region. A DOD review shows the need to develop Guam as a strategic hub” as part of a broader effort to have U.S. troops more “geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable,” Robyn said.
Japan has welcomed the initiative to relocate Marines from Okinawa to Guam, and U.S. and Japanese officials are discussing plans to adjust their 2006 realignment roadmap to do that, Robyn said. In particular, she added, the military proposes to “de-link” the movement of Marines to Guam from Japan’s progress on the Futenma Replacement Facility near Camp Schwab on Okinawa.
“We remain committed to mitigating the impact of U.S. forces on Okinawa and to construction of the FRF as the only viable way forward,” she said. “That said, we believe the two sides must invest in the Futenma facility in the near term, to ensure both safety and combat readiness.”
The Defense Department’s fiscal 2013 budget request includes $51 million for construction to support the Marine relocation to Guam. It includes another $139.4 million for the Guam move, mostly for infrastructure improvements such as water and power stations.
Overall, the budget request seeks $11.2 billion for military construction and family housing in the Defense Department, a decrease of about $3.5 billion from the fiscal 2012 budget request. Of that, $8.5 billion is for “pure” military construction, exclusive of family housing, and a request for two rounds of base realignment and closure commissions, Robyn said.
The budget proposal prioritizes operational missions with $3.5 billion requested to support operations and training requirements, including a second explosives handling wharf at Kitsap, Wash.; communications facilities in California and Japan; specialized facilities for special operations forces at various global locations; and range and training facilities for ground forces at several Army installations, she said.
The budget request also continues the recapitalization of DOD-owned schools, with $547 million to replace or renovate 11 schools in poor or failing condition. By the end of fiscal 2018, more than 70 percent of DOD-owned schools will have been replaced or undergone substantial renovation, Robyn said.
Also, the budget request includes $1 billion for 21 projects to upgrade hospitals and other medical facilities, Robyn said. The request would spend $207 million to replace the William Beaumont Army Regional Medical Center in Texas and $127 million for the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. It also provides for improvement to medical research facilities that support the chemical-biological mission, she said.
The department is heavily involved in energy conservation to reduce costs and fuel dependency, and improve operations, Robyn said. With more than 300,000 buildings and 2.2 billion square feet of building space, she said, the department’s energy bill is $4 billion annually, or about 10 percent of the DOD installation maintenance budget. Military installations account for nearly 40 percent of DOD’s greenhouse gas emissions, while representing only 25 percent of its energy costs, she said.
The department’s budget request includes $1.1 billion for energy conservation investments, up from $400 million in 2010. “Almost all of that funding is designated for energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings,” she said.
The department also is increasing the supply of renewable and other distributed energy sources to its installations, Robyn said, while making bases more “energy secure” by using microgrids, solar, wind, geothermal and other alternatives to fuel and commercial power supplies.
Department officials also are using third-party financing for large-scale renewable energy projects, making use of private innovations while affording companies tax advantages, she said.