Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1979


Special Functions

In the field of special functions, the Army and the civilian community work together. The Civil Works program, conducted by the Corps of Engineers, directly affects the residents and economic interests of the nation. It also provides a valuable training ground for Corps of Engineers officers, enabling them to practice skills useful in the military defense of the nation. Similarly, the Army’s environmental protection and preservation programs are designed to keep pace with the nation’s efforts to protect its natural resources; but, the service role is primarily supportive. In the conservation of energy, however, the Army is more directly involved, since in the modern world, mechanization dominates all facets of military operation, and energy, whether oil, gas, coal, or other types, is a critical factor. Since many of the Army’s activities, vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts in the cited areas, have tended to be more controversial in recent years, the Army’s lawyers have had to handle an increasing variety of cases defending its actions.

Civil Works

In recent years, the Army’s responsibility for civil works has been focused on the development and maintenance of the nation’s water resources. The Corps of Engineers administers all programs relating to that area, including hydropower, flood control, navigation, and inspection of high-hazard, nonfederal dams for safety. As a member of the water Resources Council, the Army has played an important role in developing a planning manual and in revising the principles and standards for planning water and related land resources projects. Both are important aspects of the President’s water policy reforms.

During the report year, appropriations for civil works increased slightly over the 1978 total and again approached the $2.8 billion mark. As indicated below, the most significant increase was in the funds for flood control and coastal emergencies and the sharpest decrease was in Construction, General, funds. The breakdown for the fiscal year includes funds appropriated by the Energy and Water Development Act, 1979 (P.L. 95-482) and the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1979 (P.L. 96-38).


(in thousands)


FY 78

FY 79

General Investigations



Construction, General



Operation and Maintenance, General



Flood Control, Mississippi River and Tributaries



General Expenses



Permanent Appropriations



Revolving Fund



Special Recreation Use Fees



Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies



Alaska Hydroelectric Power Development Fund






1Deferred in FY 78.

Although the Congress appropriated almost $200 million less is fiscal year 1979 than in the previous fiscal year for Construction, General, there was a significant upturn in the number of new starts in both preconstruction planning and in construction projects. The following breakdown reveals the return to a normal pattern in fiscal year 1979 after the new starts had been reduced to zero in the previous fiscal year.

FISCAL YEARS 1977, 1978, AND 1979


FY 77

FY 78

FY 79

Preconstruction Planning Projects




New Starts












Construction Projects




New Starts












Many of the projects operated and maintained by the Corps of Engineers produce hydropower essential to the nation. Although the total number of hydropower projects remained at 67, the number of generating units rose from 313 to 320 and for the total number of units installed, capacity increased from 17.8 million to 18.6 million kilowatts. The new units permitted the Corps to retain about 11 percent of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s estimate of the conventional hydroelectric power potential of the forty-eight continental states, approximately 3 percent of all U.S. generating capacity, and 4 percent


of all U.S. electric energy produced—the same as in the previous years.

The seven new units, which added almost 790,000 kilowatts to the Corps capacity, included four units at the Chief Joseph project on the Columbia River in Washington (each with 95,000 kilowatt capacity) and three units (each with 135,000 kilowatt capacity) at the Lower Monumental project on the Snake River in Washington. A total of 8,655 kilowatts were added by rewinding and increasing the capacity of two generators, one each at the Fort Peck, Montana, and Norfork, Arkansas, hydroelectric power plants. In the meantime, construction continued on five new projects that will have an installed capacity of over 900,000 kilowatts and eight new units are being added at Bonneville on the Columbia River to boost its output by almost 560,000 kilowatts.

In the construction of water resource facilities, the same monetary pace continued as in the past few years. In the huge navigation development of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Alabama and Mississippi, the Corps awarded a $271 million contract—the largest ever in the Civil Works program—to the firms of Morrison-Knudson, Brown, and Root, and M.K. Eby, who will jointly excavate the divide cut section of the project. Other major projects underway include the Red River Waterway in Louisiana and hydroelectric developments at the Bonneville Second Powerhouse in Oregon and Washington and the Richard B. Russell Dam and Lake in Georgia and South Carolina.

Since the passage of the National Dam Inspection Act in 1976, the Corps has become heavily involved in dam safety activities. The failure of several major dams with resultant catastrophic losses led Congress to give the Corps authority to inspect all dams that presented a high potential for loss of life and property if they should fail. In December 1977, the Corps initiated a four-year program under the act to inspect more than 9,000 nonfederal dams. By the end of fiscal year 1979, a total of 4,660 inspections had been initiated; 4,300 had been completed; and 3,670 inspection reports had been approved and notification furnished to the dam owners and to the governors of the states involved. The Corps is on schedule at the halfway point in the inspection program with 4,700 dams to inspect during the final two years.

Of the dams inspected, 1,160 had deficiencies that rendered them unsafe and 63 had the potential for immediate failure that required emergency action. Full or partial drainage or breaching relieved the pressure in most cases. Although immediate repairs


were made by some owners, the overall response could stand improvement.

Environmental Protection and Preservation

During the past decade, the nation and the Army have become increasingly involved in the protection and preservation of the environment. Since the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Army has made significant progress in some areas to comply with the provisions of the law, but much remains to be done.

In November, the Council on Environmental Quality published regulations that supplanted the former guidelines used in implementing the procedural provisions of the act. To integrate environmental considerations more fully into the federal decision making process, the new regulations require more concise documentation and more public participation in the early phases of proposed actions. All agencies must give public notification of the initiation of an environmental impact statement and permit public participation in the development of the scope of the statement. The Army, accordingly, will have to identify the most environmentally acceptable alternative and provide a detailed rationale if that alternative is not selected. Environmental assessments are now available to the public by a requirement to publish a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) in the news media and to provide the finding to affected persons. In addition, in cases of national concern, the finding must be published in the Federal Register. Interim Army guidance implementing the new regulations was issued in August and the final version is to be published by the end of 1979.

Compliance with the new regulations was one of the principal areas of discussion at the Worldwide Real Property Management System Conference held during the year in New Orleans. (The former worldwide conferences for environmental personnel and for facilities engineers were combined at New Orleans to achieve cost savings and bring the two groups together.) Other prime topics considered were air and water pollution control, solid waste management, and the handling and disposing of hazardous and toxic materials. One of the major items of concern that surfaced at the conference was the need to obtain more compliance agreements for pollution abatement projects in order to forestall litigation. Follow-up action by project managers will have to be increased to ensure that the agreements are secured.

In the field of environmental and water quality operational studies, the Corps of Engineers continued work on the six-year


program of applied research investigating high priority environmental quality problems. Under the management of the Waterways Experiment Station (USAWES), Army technical and scientific personnel sought to promote new or improved technology to solve identified problems associated with reservoir or waterway projects. The newly developed techniques were then tested at field study sites established at four reservoirs and two waterway projects to demonstrate their applicability. During the year, baseline environmental information was collected and analyzed at the six sites.

Under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, as amended, administrative extensions for compliance with the standards set forth could not go beyond 1 July 1979 and 1 April 1979, respectively. Operation of polluting sources beyond those dates are violations and will subject Army officials to enforcement actions, including possible fines, closure of the sources, and, in the case of willful and knowing violations, individual criminal sanctions.

In early 1979, a review of sources at approximately fifty-nine installations was made to determine the alternatives that were available to bring these sources into a state of compliance after the 1979 compliance dates. The alternatives considered included changes in operational procedures; shifting operations to “clean” facilities; temporary shut-down of nonessential facilities or temporary modifications to the facilities until a permanent solution could be effected; legal relief through administrative or civil actions; and legal relief through a Presidential exemption. In considering the alternatives, there were fifteen installations which could not be brought into compliance but whose continued operation was vital to the Army mission and which could not be shut down without potentially serious implications to the national security of the United States. Some form of relief was essential to permit their continued operation.

The Army initiated a two-pronged approach to the problem. The first was to initiate a request for Presidential exemptions for the fifteen installations under the provisions of the applicable laws and the second was to negotiate administrative agreements granting extensions to the offending facilities. As a result, key policymakers within the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and the Army determined that a Presidential exemption would not be requested until all possible alternatives had been explored, including court and, if necessary, appellate proceedings.

In March, the Environmental Protection Agency and the


Army negotiated a “Federal Compliance Agreement” for the fifteen installations which extended the compliance schedules for the polluting sources beyond the current statutory deadline. Although the agreement satisfied the Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement requirements, it did not preclude enforcement actions initiated by private citizens or state or local regulatory authorities. No proceedings, however, were initiated against the fifteen installations during the remainder of the year.

To fund the pollution abatement program, the Army received $75 million to correct known pollution sources. It also sought an increase for the fiscal year 1980 Military Construction program that would provide $141 million and entail some sixty-four projects.

In the spring of the year, the Army initiated early planning actions for compliance with the new Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The law covers solid waste, hazardous waste, and toxic materials and had a significant impact upon operations at Army installations when the Environmental Protection Agency began to implement it on 1 January 1980. Although the scope of corrective action that the agency requires is, as yet, undetermined, the costs to the Army are certain to be sizable.

Under the Sykes Act, as amended in 1978, the Department of Defense was to receive funds annually to enhance the fish and wildlife habitat and to develop public recreation facilities on military installations. For the first time since the act was passed in 1968, the Department of Defense obtained an appropriation of $1.5 million to devote to this purpose. The Army’s share of the appropriated funds came to $900,000 and the monies were used primarily for wildlife habitat improvement and the repair and development of ponds and lakes on approximately thirty Army installations.

Each year the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Defense present awards to the military installation conducting the best environmental quality program. For the second time within six years, Fort Sill won both the Army and Defense awards for calendar year 1978. The award committees commended Fort Sill for significant accomplishments in the areas of pollution abatement, resource recovery, wildlife management, and historic preservation.

The Army Energy Program

The Army Energy Plan, published in February 1978, described the world, national, and defense energy environment the Army would likely face during the medium-range (1985) and


long-range (2000) periods. The plan set forth objectives and goals that were the basis for the programs established during the year. As this fiscal year came to a close, an extensive revision of the plan was underway to update the world situation, program and funding guidance, and energy consumption data. The revision is expected to be published by June 1980.

The Army surpassed its objective of an 8 percent reduction in total energy consumption, based on the 1975 figures, by attaining a savings of 7.65 percent. The excellent efforts made by all commands to achieve the goal were slowed somewhat by the necessity to place increased emphasis on operational readiness and training, to expand and modernize Army installations, and to contend with a more severe winter than in the baseline year of 1975. Once again the Army was able to reduce its usage of coal, heating oils, gasoline, and aviation fuels. It was the first year in which electrical consumption decreased, but consumption of diesel fuel, natural gas, and liquefied petroleum gas began to rise. The following, expressed in British Thermal Units (BTU’s) presents a comparison between the 1975 figures and those of fiscal year 1979.

(in trillion BTU’s)

Installations Operations

FY 75

FY 79

Percent Saved

Purchased Electricity




Natural Gas




Liquefied Petroleum Gas








Purchased Steam




Petroleum Heating Fuels









Mobility Operations

FY 75

FY 79

Percent Saved

Aviation Fuels




Motor Gasoline




Diesel Fuel








Army Total




The drive to cut energy consumption throughout the government and especially in the Department of Defense, which accounted for over 80 percent of the energy that federal agencies consumed, was vigorously supported by Army efforts during the year. Initiated in 1976, the study of Army installations, to determine where energy reductions could be made and what they would cost, continued under the Energy Engineering Analysis


program. Some thirty-six installations, including six Defense Logistics Agency facilities, were undergoing analysis at the close of the fiscal year and fifty others in the United States are scheduled for study in the year ahead. The program directors plan to survey installations in Korea and Europe as well.

One method for reducing energy consumption at installations is through the use of energy monitoring and control systems that measure and regulate heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting. The elimination of waste through more efficient operation saves both energy and manpower costs. During the year, the Army continued to use the three systems put into operation previously, had another in field test status, twenty-five in design or various stages of construction, and a total of twenty-eight in the Military Construction, Army, program through fiscal year 1981.

In an effort to develop alternate sources of energy to supplement existing supplies, the Army expanded its solar energy program. In addition to two demonstration-type projects at Fort Hood, six Defense-funded facilities, including a bachelor enlisted quarters, two barracks, and three Army Reserve centers, are operational; ten Defense-funded facilities and one Department of Energy-funded facility are under construction; and seventy projects for the next two fiscal years are under design or study. The inclusion of a clause in the Military Construction Authorization Act, 1979, requiring that all family housing and 25 percent of other construction placed under design use solar energy systems whenever engineering analyses demonstrate them to be cost-effective, argued that the expansion in that field would increase in the future.

Under the provisions of the energy Conservation Standards for New Buildings Act of 1976, the government had to incorporate reasonable energy conservation features into all new federally financed buildings and design energy budgets had to be established by August 1979. As a result, the Army developed interim energy budgets early in the report year based upon the best available Department of Energy data. In March, the Department of Defense modified the interim energy budgets, and the Army proceeded to design its new facilities accordingly.

The Army and the Department of Energy also worked closely together in the more esoteric areas of energy development. The Department of Energy provided $500,000 for the concept design of the Army’s energy showcase installation—the Red River Army Depot/Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant complex in Texas. The major research areas under investigation include fuels derived


from wood and refuse; solar thermal, nonfossil transportation fuels and lignite technologies; and the use of the terrain in the construction of facilities to conserve energy. In addition, the Department of Energy made funds available for photo-voltaic development and utilization, synthetic mobility fuels, and solar heating and cooling projects.

In the field of bulk petroleum fuels and their distribution, the Army began to carry out the recommendations of a study approved by the Vice Chief of Staff in March 1978. After the first annual Petroleum Materiel Requirements Conference was held at Fort Lee, Virginia, in November, the Army began development of a master petroleum materiel requirements plan. The plan will identify equipment requirements and status, procurement funding priorities, materiel acquisition schedules, and special requirements for overseas theaters.

In a related development, the transfer of the Zweibrucken-Huttenheim pipeline system to Germany, approved in August 1978, took place on 2 July 1979. The shift placed all central European military pipeline distribution systems under single managership and is expected to enhance the bulk petroleum support provided to NATO forces in that area.

Army Litigation

During the report year, the range of Army litigation activities continued to broaden dramatically. Cases involving environmental law, constitutional rights, procurement law, personal privacy, and the Freedom of Information Act were but a sampling of the challenges faced by the legal staff.

A variety of suits have risen from the Army experimentation programs in drugs and from nuclear and bacteriological testing. Two cases involving LSD experiments in the 1950’s, Nagy v. United States and Stanley v. CIA, were dismissed due to the Feres doctrine, but are being appealed by the plaintiffs. Similar government motions for dismissal of two other cases, Chaffin v. United States and Loch v. United States, were denied, in part, on the grounds that the government’s alleged failure to warn the plaintiffs after they left the service of alleged health hazards of the tests constituted a separate tort not barred by the Feres doctrine. In the leading case arising out of the nuclear testing program of the 1950’s, Jaffee v. United States, the Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s petition for certiorari for review of his claims for damage against the United States. The damage claim against individual defendants was also dismissed in the district court but is being appealed.

The collection of evidence continued in the case of Mabel


Nevin v. United States, cited in last year’s report, involving the transporting, dispersing, and testing of bacteria in San Francisco Bay in 1950. Another case of a similar nature was filed by Department of the Army civilians employed at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Burchfield v. Gaon, who are suing doctors in their individual capacity for failure to diagnose the long-range effects of exposure to nerve gas.

In a related case, Thornwell v. United States, the plaintiff sought $10 million from the United States and thirty past and present Defense and Army officials for permanent injury allegedly resulting from the administration of LSD to him during a 1961 intelligence investigation. The suit was stayed pending the outcome of private relief legislation before Congress.

In another development, the first Agent Orange herbicide suit, Coffey v. United States, was filed by a former soldier under the Federal Torts Claim Act. Numerous suits have also been filed against the manufacturers of the herbicide.

In Cole v. Gray, the District Court found that the actions taken by certain National Guard officials in investigating alleged misuse of funds by the plaintiff and in relieving the plaintiff of his National Guard commission were within the scope of their official immunity and not actionable. Preparations continue in the case of the National Lawyers Guild v. Attorney General, which is a constitutional tort action for declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and damages brought against New York City and federal agencies for an alleged conspiracy to disrupt the organization and membership of the guild through various means of surveillance. In the Berlin Democratic Club v. Rumsfeld case, involving similar charges, the parties were exchanging settlement positions at the close of the year.

In the class action suits being pressed by a number of Army physicians to secure additional pay if they were on active duty or release from active duty commitments if they had not reported, three physicians were either released or excused from active duty commitments based on a breach or contract theory on the part of the Army; all three cases are being appealed by the Army. One class action suite, Harper v. United States, seeking variable incentive pay for Army Forces Health Professional Scholarship Program physicians was dismissed, but another, Turner v. Secretary of Defense, filed on behalf of Berry Plan physicians, is proceeding to trial.

Two suits that challenged the Army policy precluding enlistment of persons who have undergone sex surgery moved forward during the year. One, Joanne Michelle Clark v. Harold Brown,


was dismissed but is being appealed, while a second, Jane Doe v. Secretary of the Army, is in preparation. An action questioning the legality of disparate enlistment eligibility criteria for women, Beaman v. Alexander, became moot after Secretary Alexander had the regulations changed to apply the same criteria for both sexes as of 1 October 1979. Of six suits in progress during the period challenging the Army’s standards that bar enlistment of sole parents having custody of minor children, two were decided favorably to the Army. The court ruled that the women’s claims were neither justifiable nor reviewable.

The litigation on cases involving the passing over of officers for promotion by boards that had no reserve officer membership resulted in a setback for the Army. Although the district court upheld the Army claim that its Relook Boards were a valid substitute for improperly constituted promotion boards, the Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia reversed the lower court’s decision. In a similar case, the Court of Claims refused to apply a harmless error test, but granted that the Relook Boards were adequate substitutes. The Army has recommended seeking certiorari in both cases.

In lawsuits concerning civilian personnel, only one new equal opportunity class action was filed—a significant drop from the previous year. That suit and three others were successfully defended, two were settled, and two are in the final settlement negotiation stage, leaving only eight pending by the end of the fiscal year. No decisions of significance occurred in foreign civilian personnel cases; however, cost of living cases continued to be litigated.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has filed suits against the government for contracting out services in a number of instances in recent years. The Army successfully defended a challenge, made in AFGE Local 1815 v. Alexander, over the award of a contract to a private firm to provide instrument training to undergraduate rotary wing pilots at Fort Rucker. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld the district court’s dismissal of a suit by AFGE Local 2855, challenging the right of the Army to contract out for various stevedoring functions at Bayonne, New Jersey, and, in the process, rejected the underlying basis for the union’s challenge.

In the area of medical care recoveries, the number of new claims recovery actions totaled 4,443 during the report period. About $3.9 million was collected in calendar year 1978 and, of this amount, $724,000 was collected by the U.S. Army Claims Service, Europe, from 584 claims. Several favorable decisions          


from no-fault jurisdictions in New York, Colorado, and Michigan have upheld the right of the United States to recover medical care costs under various insurance laws and the medical payments clause of the injured party’s insurance policy.

Other affirmative litigation suits are underway. In United States v. Chamberlain Manufacturing Co. and Holcroft and Co., the United States initiated a suit against a subcontractor to recover for damages to government furnished property and in United States v. Reeves Telcom, to recover for negligence against a developer who built a dam in a retirement village that changed the flow of subsurface waters and undermined the government’s railroad right-of-way. Both cases are expected to result in substantial recoveries for the government.

In commercial suits, litigation continued in a wide variety of cases. The plaintiff in Gavett v. Alexander, successfully challenged the law requiring the Army to sell rifles at cost only to the National Rifle Association. The Army negotiated a settlement against the subcontractor of a prime contractor for excess payments of monies in Libby Welding Co. v. Electric Machinery Manufacturing Co.—$950,000 was returned to the contract appropriation. Although the case is on appeal, the Army gained a favorable decision in Wilkenson v. Engel Van Lines, Inc. The plaintiff had challenged the effectiveness of limitations on carrier liability contained in “tariffs” entered into between the Department of Defense and industry. An adverse decision would have removed the basis for the Department of Defense rate system.

Environmental litigation also took place at home and abroad. In Berlin, the Army successfully opposed an attempt to halt the construction of a family housing area. The plaintiff sought to apply the National Environmental Policy Act’s requirement for impact statements to a housing project being built in the occupied area at German expense and in compliance with German law.

At home, the state of Alabama and a group of commercial fishermen have instituted proceedings against the Army for the release of DDT, manufactured at Redstone Arsenal between 1947 and 1970, into the lakes and streams of the state. The Army’s position in the Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. v. Sand case, involving the enlargement of existing navigation channels in the coastal area of Louisiana, was upheld by a district court, but is under appeal. The court maintained that the benefit/cost ratio was judicially reviewable as to the consideration of environmental factors, that a congressionally set discount rate could not be reviewed, and that the benefit/cost ratio, though reduced, was not misleading. Furthermore, the court found that the Corps of En-


gineers had not violated the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, or the Federal Water Pollution Act.

A number of suits have been initiated to halt work on portions of the huge Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Alabama and Mississippi since 1974. In that year, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the environmental impact statement complied with the National Environmental Policy Act and that, although the court could review substantive controversial projects initiated by agencies, the action of Congress in appropriating funds for the waterway had supplanted the Corps recommendations that the waterway be built and thereby precluded such review. Nevertheless, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, and others have filed lawsuits alleging a lack of congressional authorization for the project as planned and the inadequacy of the environmental impact statement. A hearing on the issue of authorization was held in January and the court eventually gave forth an opinion and order dismissing the charges in the complaint that the Corps lacked the authority to construct a 300-foot wide channel. That order has been appealed and trial on the other issues and the benefit/cost ratio has been deferred until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the matter of authorization.

Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

In fiscal year 1979, the Army led all federal agencies in contracting with minority small businesses under the preference provisions of Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, with awards totaling $203.9 million. This was over $50 million above the next highest federal agency and was an increase of $60 million over fiscal year 1978. The Army has now led all federal agencies in awards under the Section 8(a) program for the past ten of the eleven years of this program. Total awards and subcontracts with minority firms reached $351.4 million in fiscal year 1979, an increase of 40 percent over the prior year and more than double the fiscal year 1977 performance. In addition, the Army’s percentage of awards made by small business set asides reached 10.8 percent, the highest percentage of such awards for the ten years that this data has been reported.



Go to:

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

Return to Table of Contents

Search CMH Online
Last updated 17 September 2004