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Earth Day Highlights DOD's Efforts to Support Mission, People, Environment

The Defense Department strives to support readiness, resilience, people and the environment in everything it does, said the assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment, who today spoke about environmental issues in advance of the upcoming Earth Day observance on Monday. 

Four people in business attire stand around a table with exhibit posters and pamphlets on it.
Brendan Owens
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment Brendan Owens tours the 2024 Pentagon Earth Day exhibits at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., April 17, 2024.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza
VIRIN: 240417-D-PM193-1124Y

Visiting Earth Day exhibits at the Pentagon, Brendan Owens said mission readiness is predicated on having access to land for troops to train, along with the need to protect the environment.  

DOD and service organizations had many exhibits on display at the Pentagon. 

J. Kevin Hiers, research conservation program manager, said DOD's Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program support the department's environmental, resilience, installation energy and water research programs. They do this by harnessing the latest science and technology to improve DOD's environmental performance, reduce costs and enhance mission capabilities, Hiers said. 

In addition, the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program enhances DOD mission readiness by engaging in long-term, cooperative agreements with state and local governments and conservation organizations that improve installation resilience, promote compatible land use, and preserve important habitats and natural resources, said Jaime Simon, the program's director for external affairs and communications. 

Tree sapling
Earth Day 2020
As the 50th anniversary of Earth Day approaches, the Environmental Division at the Defense Supply Center Columbus is working hard to meet a goal of becoming a certified USA Tree City through activities such as planting 100 trees in 2020.
Photo By: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
VIRIN: 200420-D-D0441-0157

The Natural Resources Program provides policy, guidance and oversight for management of natural resources on nearly 27 million acres of military land, air and water resources owned or operated by DOD, according to representatives at the exhibit. 

Moreover, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has performs a wide range of activities in support of its environmental missions, said Jenn Miller, a public affairs officer with USACE. These activities include:

  • Delivering clean and renewable energy sources and reducing carbon emissions and waste. 
  • Designing and building projects to last and perform under reasonable future conditions. 
  • Cleaning up sites degraded by historic activities and minimizing the environmental impacts of future activities. 
  • Planning ecosystem restoration projects and sustainably managing public and private land and water. 

Miller noted that more than 10% of USACE's workforce specializes in environmental disciplines, working alongside the rest of its diverse team to shape a sustainable future for present and upcoming generations. Over 760 million tons of civilian and military cargo each year move on inland waterways maintained by USACE. USACE also maintains 4,800 recreation sites; 7,800 miles of trails; and 92,000 campsites. Currently, USACE is modernizing over 50 Army barracks, as well.

The Defense Logistics Agency offers acquisition support for facility energy requirements — such as natural gas, electric and clean energy — with the goal of saving energy and improving performance, as well as meeting the administration's climate change goals, said Jacob H. Vigil, a contracting officer with the agency.

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