On May 22, 2001, members of the House Armed Services Committee
first heard testimony that formally introduced Congress to the
term "encroachment." It was loosely defined at the time as "external
influences that can have the effect of threatening or constraining
training." Congressman Curt Weldon implored the body's Military
Readiness Subcommittee and witnesses that day to focus on the "effect encroachment
has on our training and readiness levels." Although the Department
of Defense (DoD) proposed no definitive solutions to the problem, senior Defense
representatives detailed examples where encroachment had limited or stopped
training activities. In subsequent years, the DoD has characterized encroachment
as taking a number of forms.
Forms of Encroachment
Endangered Species and Critical Habitat
Currently, DoD lands are home to at least 355 species that are listed, proposed,
or candidates under the Endangered Species Act.1 Successful efforts in managing
habitats, combined with destruction of these habits outside installation boundaries,
have resulted in military ranges becoming havens for at-risk species. In some
cases, protection of endangered species on military lands has restricted use of
training areas. Furthermore, recent moves by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(USFWS) to designate parts of these ranges as critical habitat under the Endangered
Species Act may reduce the military's flexibility to use the designated training
lands even further, thus jeopardizing its testing and training mission.
Unexploded Ordnance and Munitions
The DoD is concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could apply
provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation,
and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
(RCRA) to the intended use of military munitions, thereby shutting down or disrupting
training on active ranges.
The growth of consumer communication devices has resulted in pressure from
the telecommunications industry to reallocate portions of the radio frequency
spectrum from federal to non-federal control. DoD is concerned that the available
and adequate spectrum may not be able to support current and future military
operations and training requirements.
The construction of luxury housing
immediately adjacent to Camp Bullis,
San Antonio, Texas, has the potential to
create conflicts with the Army's training
activities. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)
Provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act require that DoD consult with
the National Marine Fisheries Service on any activities that may "harass" marine
mammals. Some in DoD feel that the regulatory definition for harassment is too
expansive, and that interpretation could unnecessarily restrict operations and
Increasing airspace congestion from commercial sources restricts the military's
ability to provide effective testing and training of pilots. Expansion of the cellular
phone industry and wind power energy development promises towers that are hundreds of feet tall which impede training, particularly when they interfere with
the flight path. The accident potential zone (APZ) of established airfields frequently
encompasses private lands that have been developed or are in the planning stages
of development, not realizing that the APZ exists.
Like many things, encroachment
thrives in the eye of the beholder. To
the civilian who lives near an airfield,
it may be the scream of jet engines
that drowns out a favorite TV soap
opera. To the airfield's commander, it
may be the housing development that
presses ever closer to a runway approach.
J. Douglas Ripley, writing in chapter 3
of this handbook, defines encroachment
succinctly as "the cumulative result
of any and all outside influences
that inhibit normal military training,
testing, and operations." And a 2003
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers document
states: "Encroachment is any
outside activity, law, or pressure that
affects the ability of military forces to
train to doctrinal standards or to perform
the mission assigned to the installation.
Pressures result from urban
growth near installations, noise, legislation
protecting habitat, regional fragmentation,
airspace use, and stakeholder
Air quality regulations could limit DoD's ability to install equipment for units to
train. Conformity rules require federal agencies to analyze emissions from proposed
projects or activities. Application of these rules could limit the department's
ability to transfer missions to new locations. This is especially critical for re-basing
decisions that result from base realignments and closures elsewhere. Air opacity
limitations restrict the military's use of obscurant smoke, ground maneuvers
and prescribed fire for hazard reduction and environmental management.
Even though weapon systems are exempt from the Noise Control Act of 1972,
pressure from community, regional, and state organizations could serve to restrict
or reduce military training due to noise. Unfortunately, restrictions on the existing
noise environment will be exacerbated by future missions as weapons systems
Incompatible commercial or residential development and activities near military
installations compromise the health and safety of both military and civilian communities.
Limitations caused by sprawl could reduce the effectiveness of military
If left unchecked, the growing pressures of the various issues summarized above
could have a significant impact on military training.
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