WASHINGTON — Across the force, installation commanders will soon be directed to more actively engage with businesses in working partnerships that will be mutually beneficial to the Army and the communities surrounding military installations.
Katherine Hammack, the assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, said last week she would soon be sending out such a directive to installations across the Army.
Sitting alongside her Navy and Air Force counterparts at the Association of Defense Communities National Summit in Washington D.C., Hammack said privatization and military partnerships with communities and the private sector are becoming more important as the Army’s budget gets smaller.
Hammack said that such partnerships must be pursued carefully. “If we move out too fast and execute contracts that are something we cannot legally support, or are raised into question, it jeopardizes all of us.”
The Army already has several partnerships underway. One of those is the Residential Communities Initiative, which now provides 98 percent of Family housing at 44 posts and installations. Hammack said the initial construction and renovation of that housing is estimated at about $13.2 billion. Only about $2 billion of that came from the Army, the remainder from the private sector.
She also noted that from 1999 to 2012, Army partners have constructed more than 29,000 homes and renovated another 25,000, making it the longest-running and most successful partnership the Army continues to have.
Additionally, the Army has also embarked on the privatization of Army lodging.
“We have been able to improve the quality of lodging through private sector investment in the lodging, yet still provide it at an efficient cost to our Army Family,” Hammack said.
The expansion of Randolph Pointe, Fort Bragg’s only on-post apartment community, is an example of a successful military partnership with the private sector. Corvias Military Living, the private company that oversees the development, construction, operations, and maintenance of Randolph Pointe, will add 120 apartments at no extra cost to the Army. As a result, more senior, unaccompanied Soldiers at Fort Bragg will have the choice to live in an on-post apartment community. This expansion is a direct result of the successful Residential Communities Initiative partnership between Fort Bragg and Corvias Military Living.
Besides housing and lodging partnerships, Hammack said, the Army has also expanded its power purchase arrangements. As part of that effort, the private sector contracts with a post to install alternative energy systems such as solar, wind, biomass, or natural gas.
“We commit to buy the energy from that system for a period of years,” she said. “Quite often we’re seeing these prices come in at parity or less than grid power. With a contract for 20 years, we have both energy security because the production is on base, but it also gives us the ability to better manage utility costs.”
(Editor’s note: Corvias Military Living contributed to this article.)