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Feature Stories

NEWS | Sept. 23, 2016

Protecting the Environment

By Sgt. Aaron Ellerman U.S. Army Central

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Environmental issues are an increasingly important concern for U.S. forces at home and abroad. If left unaddressed, these issues may cause negative impacts to the environment potentially creating life, health and safety risks.
Working with host nation partners through ongoing projects this past Summer, such as the implementation of refined incinerators in Iraq, U.S. Army Central has paved the way to becoming a more Eco friendly force throughout its area of operations. In Kuwait alone several current projects are underway including construction of solar powered car ports at Camp Arifjan and planned distribution of a fleet of electric automobiles this fall.
“We must address the environmental issues happening around the world today because they don’t just effect us they effect everyone and its our responsibility to help,” said Jeffry Tripe, environmental program manager for ARCENT.
USARCENT is currently taking initiative to address environmental concerns by spearheading a cumulative effort overseas that is focused on mitigating impact, rehabilitating damage, promoting education, and implementing innovative solutions to better care for the environment that it is responsible for.
The U.S. Army has a international presence with numerous installations and operations throughout the USARCENT’s  operational footprint. Caring for these facilities and the environment they inhabit is a top priority.
Hazaordous waste storage areas and material redistribution centers play a major role in mitigating environmental impact to the surrounding areas. These facilities ensure proper disposal or reissue of un-needed or expired hazordous materials from around ARCENT’s area of operations.
These facilities have issued 2,393,264 Kg of supplies serving more than 27,000 customers resulting in 25 million dollars worth of savings and cost avoidance since 2011.
“Being good stewards of our operational areas reflects a positive image of how much we care for the host nations environment and shows our own desire to preserve and protect the environment,” said Col. Jeff R. Stewart, Area Support Group-Kuwait commander.
Working alongside host nation partners to create solutions to environmental challenges proves mutually beneficial and promotes strong relations.
“It is important to take care of our facilities and the environment of our installations abroad because we are utilizing borrowed land. At any time, the host nation can claim back the land they let us borrow, and it is our responsibility to return everything better than when we received it in order to keep good relations with the host nation,” said Stewart.
Waste streams originating from ARCENT facilities are continually monitored, tracked, and managed by ARCENT personell through implementaiton of detailed policies, procedures, and command directives.
U.S. forces are readily deployable to anywhere on the planet and have the capability to set up operations under very harsh conditions to meet the required objectives. A set of environmental guidelines developed by the U.S. Army and host nation environmental protection agencies are followed stringently to minimize initial impact and alternatives that are more protective of human health and the environment are constantly implemented as operations transition from initial deployment into sustainment.
“Initially, we may use treatment methods that are not ideal such as burn pits , but once operations become more stabile we transition to optimal methods like incinerators whenever possible,” said Tripe.
ARCENT’s goal is to appropriately manage available resources, while maximizing operational capability, resource availability and well-being. This includes initiating actions to limit damage to the environment caused during full spectrum operations wherever and whenever possible.
Recycling is one way ARCENT is limiting negative environmental impact and saving money.
Through the command driven Quality Recycling Program (QRP), Soldiers are able to help the environment and themselves through an individual effort.
“Soldiers should want to contribute on an individual level because it creates a healthy living, working, and training environment. Additionally, funds that are received from the Quality Recycling Program go towards Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs,” said Stewart.
The importance of personnel participating in environmental stewardship cannot be emphasized enough. According to data collected by ASG-KU during the past four-plus years, the Commander’s Qualified Recycling Program has returned over $1.5 million to funding for MWR activities, and saved the US Government more than $20 million through cost savings and cost avoidance in ASG-KU.
ARCENT has developed and implemented training to educate its current and future leaders about better ways to care for their footprints and understand their impacts.
“Our warfighters and environmental officers are our first line of defense when it comes to environmental stewardship,” said Sean Tucker, environmental training coordinator,  manager for Kuwait-Base Operations and Security Support Services.
The environmental training enables ARCENT to have a vast environmentally aware and informed presence throughout their area of operations, which spans 20 countries.
“We train those that have been appointed as the environmental officer so that the mission can be completed hand-in-glove with environmental compliance.  Our training course is comprehensive and detailed. It  focuses on compliance within the requirements outlined by the EPA, Army Regulations and Host Nation requirements,” said Tucker.
The environmental training team performs over 180 monthly environmental assessments and annual audits on activities in ASG-KU alone and has trained hundreds of new officers during the past year.
The numerous environmental officers located throughout the ARCENT area of operations work in conjunction with the ARCENT environmental training team to assess and provide regulatory guidance and assistance throughout the region ensureing department of defense and host nation environmental regulatory compliance.

The military has multiple programs that help improve the environment through innovation and technology, such as the Net Zero Program, where the goal is to reduce overall energy use, optimize energy efficiency, recovery and cogeneration opportunities, as well as offsets the remaining energy demand with the production of renewable energy.
“Technology has to be at forefront to help address some overarching environmental issues,” said Tripe.
Within the past year, ARCENT has implemented several solar and wind powered generators across several installations, reducing carbon emissions, gas consumption and man power required.
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait has more than 250 solar powered generators currently and plans to implement 1000 in the near future. According to engineers replacing every lighting system alone with a solar and wind powered model would save approximately $56-million a year.
ARCENT is also looking forward to several electric powered cars and has started installing solar panels on many existing carports to further harness clean energy.
“We must conserve our limited resources here on earth and utilizing clean energy is a great way to do that,” said Tripe.
ARCENT  encourages everyone to do their part in helping to make a better environment for the future and employs numerous personnel to help facilitate this priority throughout the region.
“It takes a cumulative effort with a common sense approach to solve this issue. Treat the land, air, and water as if it were in your own backyard,” said Tripe.