DOD Needs a Comprehensive Plan to Manage Encroachment on Training Ranges
GAO-02-727T: Published: May 16, 2002. Publicly Released: May 16, 2002.
The following eight "encroachment" issues are hampering the military's ability to carry out realistic training: endangered species' critical habitat, unexploded ordnance and munitions, competition for radio frequency spectra, protected marine resources, competition for airspace, air pollution, noise pollution, and urban growth around military installations. Officials at all the installations and major commands GAO visited in the continental United States reported that encroachment had affected some of their training range capabilities, requiring work-arounds that are unrealistic. Service officials believe that population growth is responsible for current encroachment problems in the United States and is likely to cause more training range losses in the future. Despite concerns about encroachment, military readiness reports do not indicate the extent to which encroachment is harming training. Improvements in readiness reporting can better reveal shortfalls in training, but the ability to fully assess training limitations and their impact on capabilities and readiness will be limited without (1) more complete baseline data on training range capabilities, limitations, and requirements and (2) consideration of how live training capabilities may be complemented by training devices and simulations. Progress in addressing individual encroachment issues has been made, but more will be required to comprehensively plan for encroachment. Legislation proposed by the Department of Defense to "clarify" the relationship between military training and various environmental statues may require trade-offs between environmental policy and military training objectives.