By Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham
I continue to laud the incredible efforts of the men and women who comprise the ranks of Team White Sands Missile Range.
New to the “test and evaluation” community before my arrival eight months ago, I have come to know and appreciate the phenomenal work Team WSMR does for our great nation.
To that end, I will continually say, “We cannot do what we do inside our gates without the full support and partnership of those outside our gates.”
From my vantage point, this is great news. WSMR is inextricably linked with our installation partners and our community partners in municipalities surrounding us.
I especially appreciate the value of local, regional and state partnerships that are enduring to our mission here. Academia, industry, agriculture, state and federal government partnerships are only “good news” stories that I am excited to continually talk about.
We recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the presidents of New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and the University of Texas at El Paso to strategically collaborate on our collective future.
We have initiated several technology transfer ventures and have a strong partnership with our country’s only purpose built commercial spaceport.
We have long-standing evacuation agreements with our surrounding ranching community that provides us critical buffer zones, essential to our full range of testing activities.
We have initiated a Joint Land Use Study effort – the largest ever undertaken – with the surrounding counties, cities and bases to collaboratively and strategically plan compatible economic development that balances economic opportunity with important military missions. As we’ve continued to reach out to our community teammates, I consider these extended relationships and partnerships absolutely essential to the nexus of our collective strategic planning and vision for 2020 and beyond.
Indeed, our region and state are rich with opportunities for collaboration between military and community leaders. Another key and enduring partnership for WSMR is with the Bureau of Land Management. Right now, WSMR is working collaboratively with BLM to find a mutually compatible solution with regard to the location of the power transmission line project initiated and led by the SunZia organization. All should understand the Army is committed to advancing renewable-energy projects of national importance.
Indeed, WSMR is home to the Army’s largest renewable-energy generation facility, and the Army as a whole has plans to bring on line more than 165 megawatts of renewable power in the next three years. BLM is the lead agency for the project’s Environmental Impact Statement, and we have registered our concerns with BLM regarding the routing of this power transmission line.
(Specifically, the current routing will significantly impact our test mission as it is located within our Restricted Military Airspace and the call-up area north of the missile range.) WSMR employs more than 9,000 civilians, military and contractor personnel. Dubbed an “economic engine” for the region and state of New Mexico, WSMR pumps more than $2.3 million into the economy each day, or close to $840 million annually.
We are extremely proud of the facilities we have and the multimissions we perform at WSMR.
The Department of Defense has no other location to execute these operations, because many of these missions are so complex and require advanced instrumentation capabilities. It depends on WSMR to be good stewards of its resources, work with its neighbors, and preserve the capabilities needed to test and train on our modern weapon systems. WSMR is a unique national treasure with strategic and global relevance. We are proud to continually meet the needs of our nation, tri-service partners, allies and other customers with a focus on our people, community partnerships, good stewardship and excellence.
WSMR pumps more than $2.3 million into the economy each day.