The Defense Departments program to provide land buffers near its bases has been effective in relieving military training and testing operations from encroachment pressures, but the programs funding and activities should be accelerated before land development hinders future buffering opportunities, according to a RAND Corporation report issued today.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense asked the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, to assess the effectiveness of the departments Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) and recommend ways to improve the program.
Started in 2003, REPI was created to assist military bases, which perform operations such as exercise and testing, with encroachment issues that threaten their overall readiness, training, and testing capabilities. Encroachment refers to factors such as suburban sprawl, complaints of noise and air pollution, threatened and endangered species, competition for air space and radio frequency, and water quality and supply.
As a whole, the Defense Departments attempts to remedy this problem have proved beneficial to the military, the environment, and the overall quality of life of these communities, said Beth Lachman, a RAND research analyst and the lead author of the report. However, more can and should be done in terms of funding and planning to expedite the process before the opportunity to buffer these surrounding lands is lost.
RAND researchers surveyed military staff, state and local governments, conservation organizations and other groups involved in buffering projects at six military bases in the United States. These bases include Eglin Air Force Base and Naval Air Station Whiting Field (Florida); Fort Carson (Colorado); Fort Stewart (Georgia); Marine Corps Air Station (Beaufort, S.C.); and the Naval Air Station Fallon (Nevada).