One Way Street?
Often, though, the military frames the encroachment issue in a unidirectional
manner: It is the community that's encroaching on military activities. A landowner
in North Carolina, quoted in a local newspaper, sees it differently: "We are not
encroaching on Fort Bragg, Fort Bragg is encroaching on us."
Military demands for land and airspace have grown dramatically since World
War II. A World War II infantry battalion operated in a 4,000-acre maneuver
space. According to current Army publications, a maneuver space of 61,281 acres
is now necessary to train a battalion task force. The required training space is expected
to triple again as information dominance, a concept that recognizes the
importance of communication, computers, intelligence, and surveillance, becomes
increasingly important. Total space is not the entire issue; irregular shape and terrain
can also be a factor. Fragmentation of habitat due to environmental restrictions
further exacerbates the problem.
Airspace training requirements have grown significantly, also. A World War I
dogfight between opposing aircraft occurred within visual range. A World War II
fighter required a five-nautical-mile maneuvering radius. Modern aerial fighters
require about 80 nautical miles (Rubenson 1996).
For the Navy, deeper draft vessels are having an increasing impact as dredging
is required to maintain port facilities. Moreover, changes in naval strategy that
require more ships to operate in coastal areas increase the Navy's need for training
space closer to population centers (ibid.).
No military installation, range, or training space is sized sufficiently to conduct
unobstructed ground brigade or air wing training maneuvers to the full capabilities
of U.S. weapon systems. The military's use of resources exceeded the
boundaries of its installations sometime in the last half-century. Installations have
become proficient in working around or avoiding these obstructions; alternatively,
they have become accustomed to using a larger share of surrounding regional resources
(air, land, water) than exist in their inventory.
The military's "free" use of the air, space, and land resources is now challenged
on many fronts. As much as communities value the positive effects of having a
military installation in their community, they almost assuredly will become less
tolerant over time of the intrusive effects of military training. The level of community
tolerance varies from installation to installation, depending on the relationship
that has been fostered by the commanders with community leaders and
the general public. In addition, the economic impact that the installation has on
the surrounding communities is an integral factor in the degree of tolerance and/or
level of annoyance that is tolerated.
In the face of local, regional, and national pressures, the military has tried to
adjust its training activities to resolve perceived or real conflicts. These "good
neighbor" changes have generally been initiated at the local level. Commanders,
when faced with operational restrictions, will invariably find other ways to conduct
training. The armed services have dubbed such procedures "workarounds,"
and some observers believe their net effect can be a diminished sense of realism
and expanded limits on commanders' ability to train. These workarounds generally
take the following forms:
New suburban homes with ocean views
atop ridgeline overlooking Marine Corps
Base Camp Pendleton just north of San
Diego. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)
- Reductions in Training Frequency. Training activities are skipped or the cycle for
repeating them is lengthened.
- Reduction in Training Duration. Training ranges often experience reductions in
available time. Training exercises are often reduced in duration to fit into the reduced
- Changed Locations. Training is moved to different, frequently more constrained,
locations on the same installation. Under extreme circumstances this may result
in abandoning or wasting valuable training facilities that will otherwise have to
be reconstructed at an alternative location on the installation. If such locations
are not available, training may be moved to areas off the installation. This compounds
cost and personnel requirements.
- Reductions in Size. Units are trained in smaller groups to reduce impacts (platoons
are trained, rather than companies, for example).
- Segmentation. Linear training (such as an amphibious invasion) is broken down
into sequential tasks (such as marshalling, beach movement, inland movement,
then breakout maneuvers), and not performed continuously and completely
and, thus, realistically.
- Administrative Halts. Training is temporarily halted to avoid sensitive places or
- Unrealistic Timing. Training activity is avoided during specific times to avoid
encroachment. Examples of this are stopping nighttime or weekend training, or
avoiding training in certain areas during nesting season for an endangered species.
- Use of Simulations. This can range from the injection of minor false restrictions
in the field (e.g., no live fire) to the complete substitution of virtual training for
live training (e.g., video simulations).
- Limits on Task Execution. The types of activities conducted during training are
restricted. Examples include declining to use smoke, limiting digging of foxholes,
and altering runway approaches for aircraft.
The effects of military training must be anticipated and addressed in planning.
Impacts on communities should be managed, especially since community expansion
is almost inevitable. Encroachment-based collision is imminent, if not already
occurring, at all military installations. It is unlikely that the problem can
be made to vanish through legislation. Military installations can, however, mitigate
the impacts if commanders are vigilant in establishing positive community
relations that enable installations to be participants in long-range comprehensive
planning and zoning with all surrounding communities. However, because planning
and zoning are subject to change, a more comprehensive encroachment strategy
is needed by all installations. A comprehensive and inclusive encroachment
strategy is the preferred way to achieve that goal.
Proceed to Next Section: Military Lands, Remoteness, and Population?