Assistant Defense Secretary for Energy, Installations, and Environment Brendan Owens recently talked with On Base Editor Randy Ford for the latest episode of America’s Defense Communities | The Podcast and the upcoming edition of America’s Defense Communities magazine. Here are some of the topics he discussed.
On housing conditions: “We are accelerating our investment in housing. We are working with the military departments to make sure that we are resourcing the military housing projects well and better than they have been, making sure that we are making investments in unaccompanied housing that bring it up to standard, because this is an obligation that DOD has to make sure that safe, affordable housing is out there for our families and for our service members.”
On climate resilience partnerships: “When you look at the fact that 70% of the people who work on military installations live in the community, it’s not just about hardening inside the fence line…. There are strategies that will make communities more resilient, and some of those are DOD-funded. I think the Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot program is a great example…. Beyond that, I think that making sure that that people are following the preparedness steps that are out there to make sure that the communities themselves are capable of being as independent as they need to be and responding quickly in the event of an emergency. Lastly, I think—and this is something that I don’t think defense communities really suffer from a lack of—is just pulling together when things get hard.”
On PFAS cleanup efforts: “We’ve been able to speed up testing requirements on groundwater by changing a little bit about what we would look at in terms of the testing requirements. We have put in place more transparency and guidance around what people should expect of the disclosure of the data that we ascertain when we do the testing in communities. We’ve also put in place a policy that was seeking to speed up the implementation of interim removal activities…. We’re going to continue to do community meetings, we’re going to continue to engage with our [restoration advisory boards], and we’re going to continue to move as quickly as we can.
Owens will be a featured speaker at ADC’s Installation Innovation X in Orlando in November.
Air Force photo by Jerome S. Tayborn