By Col. Brian May, M.SAME, USAF (Ret.), Niek Veraart, M.SAME, and Elizabeth Bradford, M.SAME
In an increasingly complex national security landscape, defense resilience strategies focus heavily on mission assurance. To ensure readiness, both the military and related federal agencies are shifting to a portfolio-based asset management approach that addresses the full lifecycle of structures and systems. Forward-looking resilience strategies that align with this approach enable more holistic and optimized investment decisions by considering the full lifecycle across portfolios of assets and accounting for initial funding as well as recurring, maintenance, recapitalization, and decommissioning costs. Additionally, this approach considers climate, environmental, and other key contextual risks.
The pathway to increased resilience for military installations and their assets includes assessment of vulnerabilities; prioritization of mitigation and adaptation solutions across the portfolio of assets to address the most significant risks; working to future-proof installations against emerging threats; and identifying opportunities for increased efficiency and innovation.
The longer-term nature of climate risk, punctuated by recurring extreme events, favors resilience investments that combine near-term risk reduction and other short-term benefits with longer-term risk management. Key aspects of future asset management resilience for military agencies include particular attention on climate resilience, energy resilience, and cyber resilience.
Physical changes to the environment, including flooding, drought, and extreme weather, can disrupt the military’s capabilities and operational readiness. To address this, installations can focus on smart infrastructure to monitor conditions while also incorporating sustainability into design and identifying natural infrastructure solutions to address risks like wildfire, sea level rise, and flooding.
For each portfolio of assets, it is imperative that climate resilience assessments, mitigation, and adaptation strategies are integrated with existing plans, processes, and investment strategies. In addition, there must be a recognition that climate resilience does not stop at the fence line but extends beyond to the network of goods, services, and people that federal facilities interact with and depend on. As such, climate resilience should be viewed through the lens of both military installations and their surrounding communities.
An example of such a resilience relationship between an installation and its surrounding community is Naval Weapons Station Earle, N.J. At Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook Bay (encompassing the water border of New York and New Jersey), a coastal resilience planning study was conducted by staff from the Monmouth County Division of Planning and Michael Baker International to select resilience investments that could improve sustainability and resilience from current and future coastal hazards. In particular, the work sought to assess impacts of sea level rise on facilities and navigation channels at Naval Weapons Station Earle; impacts on local projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and impacts on the surrounding Bayshore municipalities.
The study concluded that the most significant resilience challenges revolved around rising seas, drowning marshes, beach erosion, siltation, and storm-related flooding. Opportunities were identified to address these challenges, including natural and nature-based solutions. Dune creation and restoration, beach replenishment, and offshore wave attenuating features, such as oyster reefs or breakwaters, were selected to reduce erosion, including that which impacted the bottom of the pier at the base. Marsh restoration was identified for several locations to limit future erosion and reduce upland impacts of flooding. Adding perimeter berms, planted with native maritime forest vegetation, will create basins to help buffer surrounding development during times the marshes are holding excess floodwaters.
Further stormwater mitigation measures proposed in the plan include removing siltation from several creeks and marsh channels, installing more pump stations to direct excess flow into Sandy Hook Bay, and installing infrastructure improvements along Route 36 and in Highlands Veterans Memorial Park to capture the runoff from the surrounding higher elevations. These natural and nature-based resilience measures reduce risk not only for the installation, but also for the surrounding community and will provide additional open space and ecological benefits.
Today’s military demands reliable, efficient, and high-quality energy infrastructure to execute defense missions, sustain operations, and withstand, respond to, and recover from disruptions. For both federal facilities and military installations across the country, transitioning to more resilient and efficient energy infrastructure will hinge on diversifying energy sources as well as diversifying resilient and sustainable storage and distribution solutions. Leveraging renewable technologies, on-site generation, smart microgrids, fuel cells, and battery storage will benefit the installation behind the fence line while also advancing regional energy resilience.
Automated driving systems, connected vehicles, and vehicle electrification are becoming more commonplace within federal infrastructure and surrounding communities, affecting both asset management and energy resilience. Shifting to portfolio-based asset management therefore requires the development of future-focused, targeted technology solutions that meet the demands of the present, while simultaneously preparing for the needs of tomorrow and accounting for long-term resilience. Approaching this from both inside and outside the fence lines can provide scalable, cost-efficient, energy resilient solutions.
In Mountain View, Calif., a smart microgrid system funded through the Department of Defense Energy Resilience & Conservation Investment Program exemplifies how this “future state” is being achieved today. The project will incorporate several distributed energy resources, including a roof-mounted 750-kW solar photovoltaic system with low-voltage switchgear for building energy shifting; a 750-kWh battery energy storage system; and an 800-kW diesel backup generation system with a 10,000-gal storage tank.
The microgrid network will include a master microgrid controller, automatic smart switches controlling the generation resources within the Army Reserve Center of the 63rd Readiness Division, and an energy management system with advanced metering. To ensure the system is cybersecure, the smart microgrid will be installed on a closed restricted network requiring authority to operate.
Demand for smart, connected operational technology is increasing not only in defense facilities, but in the built environment serving society. As a result, cyber risks are also on the rise. Key facilities and infrastructure such as command centers, hangars, hospitals, power grids, water systems, and communication networks often rely on or are enhanced by a connection to the Internet of Things. If not adequately secured, these connections are vulnerable to cyberattack.
Cyberattacks can be more than just a nuisance that hinders productivity. They can have serious impacts on mission readiness and threaten human health and safety. Both public and private sector facility owners are increasingly aware of facility-related cyber risk and are looking for solutions to reduce exposure and increase resilience. In looking at a portfolio of connected assets, engineers must create a framework to define and assess risk both inside and outside the fence line and offer tangible engineering solutions, starting in the facility design phase, to enhance cyber safety.
This approach was deployed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, where Michael Baker International was responsible for a secure communications distribution system as part of a renovated hangar and adjacent new alert facility. The cybersecure design was applied across connected components of the security system, which consists of intrusion-detection, access control, video surveillance, closed-circuit television, and public address system devices. While the security infrastructure is necessarily designed to provide protection against physical intrusion, it must be protected against cyber intrusion as well.
A RESILIENT FUTURE
Comprehensive, portfolio-based asset management builds a better business case for sustainable and resilient infrastructure. It also provides a path to achieving a higher degree of mission readiness.
By focusing holistically on climate, energy, and cybersecurity, military installations and their facility managers can move toward a more resilient future, armed with mitigation strategies that enable them to anticipate continually evolving risk environments. Through this continuous adaptation and adjustment, we can ensure our asset portfolios remain mission-ready into the future.
Col. Brian May, M.SAME, USAF (Ret.) is Senior Vice President and National Market Lead – U.S. Air Force, Niek Veraart, M.SAME, is Senior Vice President and National Practice Lead – Planning, and Elizabeth Bradford, M.SAME, is Vice President and National Resilience Lead, Michael Baker International. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; and Elizabeth.Bradford@mbakerintl.com.
[This article first published in the September-October 2022 issue of The Military Engineer.]