| There are approximately
272 million people living in the United States today (U.S. Census Bureau,
1999). Of those, nearly 2.4 million people serve in the armed forces
(active, guard and reserve). As the population in America rises,
many military installations will face the urban sprawl of the civilian
communities pushing up against the borders of those installations. The
major complaint that civilians outside military installations say they
have is the noise pollution created by military vehicles and operations,
such as aircraft training and bombing sorties, and tank maneuvers with
live-fire demonstrations (Noisecamp Seminar, 1999).
This paper intends to
deal with the best possible solutions for creating a more harmonious relationship
between the military and civilian communities. All too often, public
affairs offices are bombarded with telephone calls from angry or curious
citizens complaining about the military presence in the area and the noise
that disrupts their lives. Typically, a caller can be made to understand
the reason for the noise through a simple explanation of why the noise
is occurring, and when they can expect it to stop. Therefore, it
is posited that the level of noise complaints can be kept static, even
as the population around the installations grows simply by creating a heightened
awareness of the military's necessity.
To do so, support should
be solicited through local news media outlets. The public affairs offices
would create news releases regarding major exercises, deployments, or changes
in flight patterns or times when the civilian populations could expect
loud noises. Installation commanders could host town hall meetings
(during open houses) on the installations affected so the public could
get a look at what their military does in their community. Media buy-in
is not guaranteed, although they could be enticed to cover PA efforts through
a variety of means, including inviting them to live with the troops during
major exercises held during sweep periods. PAOs could supplement
the media approach with strengthened community relations programs.
To begin, PAOs would invite the local community members to tour the base
and meet with military members.
This problem spans across
every service within the Department of Defense, and impacts other government
agencies, such at the United States Coast Guard. It is the researchersí
belief that every public affairs office from every service can benefit
from this study, and that once completed they shall have a good template
of community relations to follow to alleviate future complaints.