Capt. Mary Feinberg, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity South Potomac, hosted her first NSASP Community Relations (COMREL)Council meeting Aug. 26 since assuming command in July. At the Town of Indian Head’s Village Green Pavilion, the council discussed military construction projects and events on Naval Support Facilities Dahlgren and Indian Head, as well as the ongoing Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) being led by Charles County.
Feinberg thanked the Town of Indian Head for hosting the meeting and recognized guests before introducing herself to the council. “As I settle in at NSA South Potomac, I know I have some big shoes to fill,” she said. “Capt. [Pete] Nette did a great job while he was here and it’s my intention to continue the same model-to be a good neighbor to the many communities that support us and our personnel. I’m learning about all of your communities and look forward to meeting all of you and supporting your programs, as well. My goal is to keep our communities informed of our activities and accomplishments.”
Feinberg later introduced the meeting’s guest speaker, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, representative for Maryland’s 5th congressional district. Hoyer’s remarks centered on the budget cuts set to affect the Department of Defense (DoD) in fiscal year 2016.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 and its automatic provisions for budget sequestration set in place yearly reductions in government spending until 2022. The cuts to DoD scheduled for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 were moderated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, but sequester cuts resume in 2016 and will continue until 2024.
Before Hoyer addressed those issues, however, he praised all the vital work service members and civilian employees at Naval Support Facilities Dahlgren and Indian Head accomplish every day. “I’m certainly pleased to be here with all of you,” he said. “We’re excited about what’s happening at Indian Head and at Dahlgren, two extraordinary and very important facilities. I want to thank the men and women in uniform and who work at Indian Head and Dahlgren. The work they do each day not only enhances our national defense, but also contributes greatly to the development and testing of cutting-edge technologies that have both military and civilian applications.”
Hoyer added that he was proud to support the construction of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Technology Division’s (NSWCIHEODTD) Advanced Energetics Research Laboratory. Supporting such critical military infrastructure and expertise is one of the foremost responsibilities of Congress, said Hoyer, though meeting that responsibility become increasingly challenging.
“In the words of Tom Clancy, it is a clear and present danger and no one ought to diminish the challenges we have in funding the defense establishment and its future. Budget sequestration starts with ‘s,’ which stands for stupid. None of you would run your public or private enterprises on the theory of sequestration.
“Sequestration was a number that was pulled out of the air that bore no relationship to our responsibilities, challenges or opportunities,” Hoyer continued. “It was simply a number so draconian that the Congress would avoid it by reaching so-called big deal. Because the Congress, as you have undoubtedly noted, is dysfunctional and unproductive, it did not do so.”
Hoyer acknowledged that the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, also known as the Ryan-Murray Compromise, was a step toward undoing the damage of the sequester, but said the law did not go far enough. “The deal only avoided sequestration for two years: fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015. This is not some esoteric [argument]-this will have real consequences for the operations for the Department of Defense.”
DoD’s budget cannot keep pace with inflation as a result of the sequester, said Hoyer, nor will it allow the Armed Forces to stay ahead of evolving threats such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you care about the defense of our nation, if you care about the investments on the domestic side like education, health care, infrastructure, science and research, we need to have a big deal,” said Hoyer. “We need to have some resolution of the fiscal confrontations that have occurred.”
Other NSASP news
Feinberg briefed the COMREL about several events involving NSASP and its tenant commands, such as the recent selection of new chief petty officers. The selected Sailors are currently undergoing CPO 365 training and will be officially pinned on Sept. 16. “The selectees will work together in a number of team-building exercises, as well as conduct fundraising events,” she said.
NSASP-based commands also recently hosted the highest ranking naval officers from South Korea and the United Kingdom and participated in several community outreaches, such as a rocket competition in Dahlgren. Feinberg also praised NSWCIHEODTD for continuing its 25 years of support for the Charles County Fair. This year’s fair is Sept. 11 -14 and will include displays from the Marines and Sailors of the NSF Indian Head-based Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF).
Feinberg highlighted the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) testing at NSF Dahlgren’s main runway in June, the first fixed-wing flight from the installation in more than a decade. The testing was a collaborative effort between the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD).
Planning for the celebration of NSF Indian Head’s 125th Anniversary, to take place next fall at the Village Green Pavilion, has begun, said Feinberg. “We want to reach out to former employees [of Indian Head] so they can share their stories and help us celebrate. More details will be available soon and we hope you’ll all help us honor such a great milestone. “
NSF IH JLUS update
Amy Blessinger, project manager for the Charles County Department of Planning and Growth Management, updated the COMREL about the progress of the ongoing NSF Indian Head JLUS. “What is a joint land use study? It is a cooperative planning effort between a military installation and the surrounding communities to promote compatible community growth and preserve military mission and defense capabilities.
“In our case,” Blessinger continued, “it is a cooperative between NSF Indian Head, the Town of Indian Head and Charles County.”
The JLUS is funded by the DoD Office of Economic Adjustment; the process helps preserve the quality of life in communities surrounding military installations, while also preventing off-base development from hindering on-base operations.
“The study recently began,” said Blessinger. “We developed a policy committee and a technical committee to start delving into the potential issues.”
Thus far, the committees have not found that noise from the base is a significant impact to the surrounding community. Another issue under discussion is the revitalization of the Town of Indian Head. “Everyone agrees those efforts will greatly benefit the base, the town and the county,” said Blessinger.
Input from the public will play a prominent role in the JLUS as the study moves forward. “We want everyone to get involved,” said Blessinger. “The next big thing will be the first public forum for the study sometime in the fall.”
For more information about the NSF Indian Head JLUS, visit www.indianheadjlus.com.
Cmdr. Jeff Brancheau, public works officer for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington (NAVFACWASH), briefed the COMREL about ongoing projects at NSFs Dahlgren and Indian Head that will enhance operations as well as the quality of life of base residents.
At NSF Dahlgren, military construction (MILCON) project 290 (P290) is currently underway. The 29,393 square foot construction will help the Aegis Training and Readiness Command meet its current and future missions.
P372 will replace Dahlgren’s aging gym with a new, 31,525 square foot facility.
Both projects are scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2015.
At NSF Indian Head, P222 continues the long process of replacing the Navy’s last coal-fired power plant with clean, efficient natural gas system. A new, six-mile, high-pressure natural gas transmission line, originating outside of the installation near Bryans Road, is currently being brought to the site by Washington Gas.
Construction is also continuing on the second phase of NSWCIHEODTD’s new, state-of-the-art Agile Chemical Facility. P162 will replace older facilities and help the command continue to serve as the Navy Center of Excellence in Energetics.