The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has significant responsibilities with respect to cultural resources in every nation and region where DoD operates, while simultaneously supporting the multiple missions of DoD. Within the U.S., for example, DoD’s historic property portfolio located on military lands includes a total of 73 National Historic Landmarks, 694 entries on the National Register for Historic Places, and more than 16,700 known archaeological sites, approximately 3,200 historic buildings and many more Native American sacred sites and structures. The Department continues to use and maintain some of these prized cultural properties as an integral part of mission support and readiness.
The DoD cultural resources policy mandates compliance with applicable DoD environmental regulations and instructions, U.S. Federal laws and Executive Orders and international laws and treaties with respect to cultural resources in all DoD operations and undertakings. To review these requirements, click the links below:
Site of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Replacement Facility, to be constructed at Henoko Bay in northeastern Okinawa Prefecture, near the current location of Camp Schwab. The project was delayed for years due to environmental concerns, including potential impact to the feeding grounds of an aquatic mammal known as the Okinawan Dugong, which the Japanese government had declared a protected “natural monument” on the Japanese Register of Cultural Properties under Japan’s “Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties.” This designation made the Dugong subject to protection under the 1972 World Heritage Convention and Section 402 of the U.S. National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), which required DoD to: (a) take into account any adverse effects to the Dugong that may arise from the undertaking, and (b) minimize or mitigate such effects. DoD’s responsibilities under Section 402 fo the NHPA were clarified in the Court’s judgment in the case known as Okinawa Dugong v. Gates, 543 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (N.D. Cal. 2008). All legal requirements having been met, the government of Japan granted permission in December 2013 for construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility to begin. Photo: Kyodo News.