By Scott Prater, Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. —More than 550 land managers and program directors from across the Army gathered at Fort Carson for the 2019 Army Environmental and Range Readiness Training Symposium (AERRTS) Aug. 27-29, 2019.
Attendees started their first day with an introduction brief at McMahon Auditorium before moving to the Mission Training Complex.
Army environmental program leaders welcomed them to Fort Carson and spoke about the importance of effective environmental management of training areas and ranges at the world’s U.S. Army installations.
Col. Brian K. Wortinger, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson, provided a few words as the host garrison commander. While showing a diagram of Fort Carson’s range utilization schedule, he gave attendees an inside look at how vital solid range management is to not only installation commanders, but Army force readiness.
“This schedule is so full of training events that build off of previous training events, so that if anything gets knocked off schedule it creates a cascading effect, which results in our inability to be mission-ready for whatever is coming up next,” Wortinger explained. “So, our entire team has to work collaboratively to ensure we are ready to go for that next exercise.”
Range and environmental managers cover a lot of ground in the Army as managing land and installations involves a multitude of challenges. It’s a place where laws, regulations and training schedules often converge and sometimes conflict.
Symposium leaders explained the purpose of AERRTS was to support Army Readiness by improving synergy between the Army Environmental Program (AEP) and the Sustainable Range Program (SRP).
“The whole plus (added benefit) of this event was to bring everybody together to collaborate,” said Col. Mary Williams-Lynch, Army Environmental Programs chief. “It took a huge effort to put this on. With the concept of AERRTS, we wanted to create some synergy. We want to collaborate, and we want to discuss process improvements and then develop some efficiencies. So, there’ll be some homework for all of us.”
The symposium offered in-depth training on a wide variety of topics; topics that range and installation managers may face on occasion or even daily, everything from emerging contaminants to wildland fire, and from prescribed burning to National Environmental Policy Act requirements.
In all, subject matter experts provided training in more than 75 specifically focused sessions during the three-day event. Some attendees, for instance, sat in on Clean Water Act compliance or Decision Document Policy and Best Practices. Others attended Effective Range Preparation for Aviation and Live Fire Training while still others learned or refreshed their knowledge at handling noise complaints and managing threatened and endangered species on ranges.
“This is where readiness starts,” Williams-Lynch concluded before sending attendees to their training sessions. “Gen. Mark Milley laid it out well a couple of years ago when he made this statement, ‘Installation readiness is one of the foundational parts of overall readiness, because that’s where we get our housing, quality of life, education, etc. That’s also where you get your training, and when Soldiers are deployed, we need to ensure Families have a great quality of life so we can focus on the task at hand — the military task.’”