Their official duty is to carry the nation’s military heroes to their final resting places at Arlington National Cemetery.
Off-duty hours are spent in stables at Fort Myer and Fort Belvoir, Army bases south of Washington.
A BLM news release dated December 15 said the agency has granted the Army a temporary right-of-way to graze up to twelve horses on fourteen acres in the Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area near Lorton, VA.
The Proposed Action, described in a DNA worksheet, indicates an immediate need for interim pasture space due to renovations at Fort Belvoir that will take three to five years to complete.
The driver of the renovations was not given.
A report by the Army’s Public Health Command-Atlantic, covered in an April 7 story by CNN, cited unsanitary and potentially life-threatening conditions at the facilities, with the horses consuming poor-quality feed, suffering from parasites and standing in tiny mud lots scattered with gravel and construction waste.
Two horses died unexpectedly in February.
The primary issues were lack of space, inadequate funding for improvements and routine turnover of the unit’s top leaders, according to the report.
Western Horses Watchers does not know if the renovations at Belvoir and the temporary housing at Meadowood were prompted by the findings.
The DNA worksheet was the only document posted to the project in ePlanning.
Opportunities for public involvement appear to be limited.
UPDATE: A story by Military dot com suggests the renovations and findings are related.