FORT HOOD — Officials met Monday to discuss the progress made and challenges ahead for Fort Hood’s Net Zero Waste by 2020 program.

“Net Zero is our project ... to do our little piece of the pie and make our world a better place,” said Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, helping kick off the all-day workshop at Club Hood.

Soldiers of all ranks, Army civilians and Fort Hood residents came together to see what has been done since the first Net Zero workshop was held just more than one year ago, and create goals for 2013.

Milley described disregard for the environment as a significant threat to America’s national security, which, he reminded the service members present, they each had raised their right hands to defend.

“It may seem odd for a general to use this kind of language in a room full of guys with combat patches on,” Milley said. “This is as equally threatening to our lives as anything the enemy can do with bullets or bombs.”

During last year’s workshop, four working groups were created to focus on key areas of the Net Zero program: reduce, reuse, recycle, and marketing and outreach. At Monday’s event, each group provided the garrison commander and the corps commander with six actions to research and initiate in 2013.

“We’ve done a great job in 2012, but we need more behavior modification and we’ll get there,” said Col. Matt Elledge, garrison commander.

While some of the actionable ideas included incorporating paperless processing, recycling tires, creating a postwide redistribution of goods list and a Net Zero standdown day, Milley said commander involvement is the ultimate key to success.

“If I as a commander want to have Net Zero happen, I have to get my commanders on board,” Milley said. “Until I get the commanders energized about it, it’s going nowhere.”

Making it easy, efficient and cost-effective will also play a significant role, he said.

“We have to create an incentive program that is real ... and that appeals to soldiers and their families on a federally-owned installation,” Milley said, adding that to balance the incentives, there also must be consequences.

At the end of the day, there were 24 action items to focus on in 2013, which the work groups will use to move Fort Hood closer to its goal of closing the landfill by 2020.

Maj. Rhoad Shupe, of the directorate of plans, training, mobilization and security, is part of the recycling work group and said it was motivating to hear all the progress made over the past year, including the single stream recycling bins issued to family housing residents.

Moving forward, Shupe said, he was ready to get started on the new ideas generated.

“That’s the biggest thing — getting people to come in here and bring ideas you haven’t thought of,” he said. “For us, it’s about finding ways to make it easier to make that choice (to recycle).”

Fort Hood was one of six installations chosen by the Army to test the feasibility of the entire military branch going zero-waste by 2050.

“If we can do our part ... and we can run a pilot program for the Army to determine what it takes to be a sustainable installation, then that program will expand to all of the Army,” Milley said.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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