Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- The Combat Center’s Natural Resources of Environmental Affairs support branch is tasked with one of the most important jobs in the community. The branch is responsible for keeping the Combat Center’s environment in good condition, which includes the upkeep of the installation’s water, air and ground, so all base personnel are living in a high-quality environment.Moreover, NREA personnel are tasked with overseeing all environmental compliance issues, ensuring all units aboard the Combat Center are in compliance with environmental regulations.“We do this through the commanding general’s environmental inspection program,” said Scott Kerr, head of the base’s NREA compliance support branch.The commanding general’s environmental inspection program is an inventory of all environmental practices that exist at each location of the base. It identifies who is involved in these practices, such as recycling, water separation, hazardous material storage and wash racks, from the unit’s supervisor to worker level.The support branch developed environmental standard operating procedures to cover the environmental practice types. The NREA inspector general conducts technical assist visits three times a year where he validates the installation’s activities and practices.“Inspections require documentation or a checklist,” said Kerr. “We go through all the installation’s units and see that they are being trained for awareness in recycling, keeping the water clean and keeping hazardous materials and substances out of the environment’s natural circulation.”Once a year, the support branch conducts a formal inspection with the commanding general.All inspection results are kept on file for the inspectors general’s program at Headquarters Marine Corps, Quantico, Va.As of this past year, the Environmental Management System program is now required by the Department of Defense. Headquarters Marine Corps established a series of policy letters implementing the EMS system here in March 2004.“The EMS program is a continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving the processes and actions that an organization undertakes to meet its environmental goals,” said Patrick O. Mills, NREA support branch inspector. “Our EMS program is based on the ‘plan, do, check, act’ model. This stage continues the step-by-step action plan for developing and implementing the commanding general’s environmental inspection program. At this point, we identify problems with the EMS program and act to resolve these issues.”Each active unit in the Combat Center is assigned an environmental coordinator, and they meet every month for a conference with members of the NREA support division here, said Mills. Issues regarding activities and practices that are connected to the Combat Center’s environment are discussed and are forwarded to Headquarters Marine Corps.“EMS can result in both business and environmental benefits,” said Mills “For example, EMS may help you improve environmental performance, enhance compliance, prevent pollution and conserve resources, reduce risks, increase efficiency, reduce installation costs, enhance our image with the public, and improve employee awareness of environmental responsibilities. Developing and implementing EMS may also have some associated costs including staff and employee time, costs for training of base personnel, costs associated with hiring consulting assistances when needed, and costs for analyzing environmental impacts and improvements.”The mission for the Combat Center’s NREA support branch is to conduct environmental inspections of all activities aboard the installation through the newly developed EMS program. The NREA support branch will continue to direct action, set forth responsibilities, and add on references for the Combat Center’s environment. By implementing the EMS program, they will provide policy and information concerning the commanding general’s environmental inspection program.To learn more on how base personnel can play their role in maintaining an excellent environment in which to live call, the base NREA support division at 830-7396.