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Teamwork, collaboration lead to success

Tim Pridgen, DPTMS land rehabilitation and maintenance coordinator; Kenneth Ward, DPW forestry technician; Sean Sparks, DPTMS training division chief, Command Sgt. Maj. William Lohmeyer, garrison command sergeant major; Doug Watkins, DPW chief of the natural resources branch; and Al Townsend, DPW chief of the environmental division. (Courtesy Photo)

Tim Pridgen, DPTMS land rehabilitation and maintenance coordinator; Kenneth Ward, DPW forestry technician; Sean Sparks, DPTMS training division chief, Command Sgt. Maj. William Lohmeyer, garrison command sergeant major; Doug Watkins, DPW chief of the natural resources branch; and Al Townsend, DPW chief of the environmental division. (Courtesy Photo)

Published: June 19, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 19, 2014) -- Many installations struggle towards a successful relationship between those who want to sustain or enhance natural resources and those who consume or have a direct impact on the training lands.

This has not been the case at Fort Rucker based on an excellent working relationship between the environmental, natural resources and training communities. In today’s resource-constrained environment, organizations must be willing to partner with each other for the sake of efficiency, pooling of resources and program success.

One such project proved to be a good example while working towards correcting a degrading maneuver trail within one of Fort Rucker’s many training areas. Upon assessing the situation, we identified a severely compromised trail at a culvert location that could no longer support the varying requirements of the multiple organizations who routinely utilize it. Our assessment depicted heavy rains and moderately erodible soil, were the major contributing factors.

Like many organizations today, restrictions on what types of funding can be utilized to execute particular type projects, reductions in manpower and increasing requirements have the potential to create the perfect storm. Considering this particular location proved to be an even greater challenge as maneuver trails are not considered real property infrastructure, therefore, they do not generate sustainment, maintenance or rehabilitation funding.

Also of concern was the issue in regards to protecting our waterways within the installation boundaries. As all were aware, these trails are actually a critical support element of the installation’s entire mission. This particular location supports light-wheeled maneuver training, land navigation and survival training for many Fort Rucker Soldiers. Additionally, the trails are routinely used by timber management, natural resources and even ground medical evacuation personnel.

Attempting to execute this type of project has the potential to require a significant amount of funding and time to correct. During this year of execution, the Integrated Training Area Management program in particular has struggled significantly due to heavy cuts in both personnel and capability.

Knowing that design costs alone could reach into the tens of thousands of dollars, while adding the additional burdens of labor, heavy equipment, materials and the amount time associated with execution of outside projects, and the cost continues to grow while the site actually degrades even further.

During our assessment, the team decided that executing an in-house project while leveraging the different organizations’ capabilities and resources could both reduce repair time and provide significant cost avoidance to the installation. Having the environmental expert, Al Townsend, on the team was an added bonus. His knowledge in regards to best management practices towards sustaining the environment proved to be instrumental during both the planning and execution phases.

The team decided this would also be a great opportunity to introduce the new garrison command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. William Lohmeyer, to the Installation Management Command environment. He hit the ground running and immediately saw value in our business practices.

Understanding how critical sustaining and protecting both the environment and our training land capacity is as it relates to meeting our military training mission, he even offered a few thought processes for greater efficiency. He applauded the team for taking such an innovative approach towards this complex problem even though it was located in the woods, and most of the installation was unaware of the issue or the impacts.

The overall project timeline is estimated at two weeks for completion, and leverages materials, equipment, capability and manpower from both DPTMS and the Directorate of Public Works.

The team is proud of this project and the thought processes that were utilized for something that may sound as simple as repairing a gravel road, when in fact there was much more required behind the scene.

Partnering with military leadership, Army civilians and some of our contracted workforce is always a dynamic environment that can benefit from the skills of a diverse team of experts.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/128489/

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