DoD Noise Working Group

Noise and Its Effects

To some, the sounds of military activities are accepted for the national safety, security, and freedoms they help support and defend. To others these sounds deprive them of peace and quiet. Noise, or unwanted sound, can disturb routine activities and may be viewed as an annoyance. Displeasure from noise and the degree to which it is an impact is largely subjective, but can be qualified or quantified by policy and regulation. The response of community members to military noise depends on many factors including:

  • intensity
  • duration
  • repetition
  • the time of the day
  • abruptness of onset or cessation
  • fear of personal danger from the noise sources
  • the extent people believe that the noise could be controlled

What Causes Military Noise?

Planes, helicopters, ordnance, tanks, ground vehicles, and small arms are just a sample of the standard military equipment that can produce high levels of sound. During military training operations sounds from aircraft flight and ordnance detonations from tank gun firings, artillery use, missile firings, combat engineering demolitions, and air-to-surface bomb drops all have the possibility of being disruptive to daily activity.

DoD Steps to Manage Noise From Training Activities

The military considers its relationship with the surrounding community crucial and has a variety of strategies for noise management. These include:

Operational strategies. Plans are developed that include the avoidance of aircraft flight routes and altitudes in noise-sensitive areas and placing limits on the occurrence of noise producing operations, if possible. In addition, night training activities can be limited to those that are essential for effective training.

Land Use Strategies. The military recommends and supports the implementation of compatible land uses for those areas located in the vicinity of a military installation, range or training area. For instance, adopting the zoning of compatible land uses such as agricultural, forestry or certain recreational activities can function as a buffer between the installation or range and a noise-sensitive community development . The buffer is useful in mitigating community annoyance levels. Likewise, through the securing of easements that benefit conservation efforts, restrict use, or development around an installation or operational range, the military helps to limit future incompatible activities, or growth, that could lead to concerns about military operations.

Community Involvement

Installations consider themselves a member of the community. Working directly with local comprehensive planning efforts, the military takes a pro-active approach to understanding encroachment and community concerns, while at the same time articulating its military mission and operational requirements for installations, ranges, and training areas. Through active participation in community activities, and military sponsored exchanges, installation staffs and community leaders can get to know each other's key players and interests. The dialogue supports good communication and partnering. When necessary, routine meetings may be held to update interested parties on installation activities and notification protocols can be established for significant events.

Working Together to Defend Communities

The core mission of the Department of Defense is employment of the Armed Forces to protect the United States and its interests. Securing the nation depends on realistic training for the U.S. Military. The use of actual weapon systems and detonation of live ordinance, night training, and low-level flight are just a sample of the requirements for representation of real life conditions and effective training. The sound produced from these activities may disrupt civilian communities near military installations, ranges and training areas. Recognizing that the sounds of military operations can affect people's lives, the Department of Defense and its Military Departments are working with local communities to find cooperative solutions to noise concerns.

Members of the Community

The Military Services (Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force) want to be good neighbors. The military continues to work with civilian partners and to listen to residents' concerns regarding the sounds associated with military training that may be disruptive to their community. Service staffs are available to meet and discuss noise associated with military training. Contact the local Public Affairs Office or the Community Plans and Liaison Officer with any questions or concerns.

Last Modified: 22 January 2013 at 13:54