WASHINGTON, DC -- Within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), there is a cadre of environmental engineers and environmental specialists that serve on an expeditionary team providing support to the combatant command and its components during war, contingency operations, and disaster relief operations. Known as the Environmental Support Team (EnvST), these teammates provide critical environmental support to U.S. Forces deployed overseas so they can focus on their mission.
Recently, members of the EnvST team participated in a two-week long training session, alongside members of the other expeditionary teams that make up USACE’s Field Force Engineering program. During the annual training conducted April 23 through May 2 at the USACE Readiness Support Center in Mobile, Alabama, members from EnvST, the Forward Engineer Support Team (FEST), Contingency Real Estate Support Team (CREST), and Logistics Support Team (LST) strengthened their skills in support of the war fighter with an emphasis on base camp development and operation.
"The value of the EnvST Program is that it gives USACE environmental subject matter experts who have expressed an interest in supporting the program an opportunity to learn additional environmental skills that they are likely to need if called upon for overseas deployments,” said Arlene Weiner, Field Force Engineering training manager at USACE Headquarters. “It also offers a forum to interface with other USACE staff who share their interest but may have a different skill set. This forum provides a great chance for peer to peer exchange of ideas as well as exposure to some that have done the mission and can provide that real world experience.
During this training event, teammates obtained an overview of upcoming training tracks and also an overview of reachback engineer data integration (REDi). REDi provides a common database, mapping tool, and robust user interface for managing, tracking and archiving all data and reachback for the Field Force Engineering program.
This was followed by additional full group training on the tools and information available through the USACE Reachback Operations Center (UROC) and how base camp planning is integrated into the joint construction management system.
Before breaking out into the individual training tracks, an overview was provided on the operations order (OPORD) that provided a fictional event that would serve as the combined groups’ capstone project.
“This year's EnvST course has been expanded and incorporated with the FEST training. This modification has allowed the students a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities and how the Field Force Engineering teams support each other in completing the mission,” said Bruce Travis, EnvST instructor with the U.S. Army Engineer School’s Directorate of Environmental Integration. “Completing the EnvST training provides information on the different media, and the necessary resources/reachback to be setup for success in future deployments.”
The EnvST track provided training across several different topic areas focused on supporting contingency operations and the war fighter. Training included the following:
- Environmental laws, regulations, and Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS) environmental baseline guidance
- Water resources and testing
- Wastewater and solid waste treatment
- Hazardous waste requirements and storage management
- Activities prior to and during deployment
- Environmental tool kit for expeditionary operations
- Spill response and management
- Medical waste management
- Pesticides, asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) requirements
- Protection of cultural and natural resources
- Air quality
- Environmental sustainability considerations in base camp development
- Environmental impacts and preparation of an environmental baseline assessments and surveys for OCONUS activities
- Occupational and health surveillance and assessments
- Repurposing of basecamps
At the conclusion of the individual training sessions, participants with the FEST, CREST, EnvST, and LST were split into four teams to perform the capstone as detailed within the training session’s OPORD.
The final day resulted in each team briefing their findings, which fed into their base camp designs including the cost and schedule to achieve base camp operation. Each team provided a high quality product and briefing incorporating the training lessons resulting in a very detailed and comprehensive package to construct and operate a base camp in response to the fictional disaster outlined within the OPORD.
Not only does this training provide hands-on experience and enable face-to-face interactions with fellow Field Force Engineering Teams, but it also provides skillsets that can be utilized by team members at their home stations as well.
“The joint training opportunity and collaboration with CREST, Logistics and the recon/base design teams provided a portal for teammates to view their respective duties and deliverables, and clarified how the EnvST team can supplement efforts to satisfy overall mission success,” said Brian Ogburn, EnvST member and facility manager for the Environmental Laboratory with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. “I am already putting my training to work in an assessment of a potential airfield.”
Additional information on the Field Force Engineering Program, and the Environmental Support Team available at: