By better managing environmental issues during deployments, U.S. Army units can gain tactical and strategic advantages that will help in combat and post-conflict operations, and boost overall mission success, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.
The study finds that commanders have not usually given environmental concerns high priority during planning, despite the effect environmental conditions can have on troop health, safety and security, and the importance they have for the local population.
Researchers recommend that Army leaders give more weight to strategic, operational and tactical aspects of environmental considerations during planning and operations, and develop comprehensive standards and best practices to address environmental issues during contingencies.
This is consistent with the Army's new counterinsurgency doctrine, which highlights the importance of environmental improvements (especially sewage, water and trash) to gain support of the local population.
U.S. experience in Iraq suggests that providing clean water, electricity, sewage and trash management can tip the balance between the local residents supporting the U.S. mission or the insurgency, according to the study. Public opinion surveys suggest that Iraqis care about these issues almost as much as security.
Environmental considerations encompass anything related to the environment that affects the planning and execution of military operations or is affected by those operations. They include (but are not limited to) clean water, sewage-related infrastructure, soldier health, compliance with environmental laws, sustainability, protection of historical and cultural sites, and management of agricultural and natural resources.
"Perhaps the most underappreciated aspect of environmental considerations is the role that they can play in achieving U.S. national objectives in counterinsurgency and stability operations," said report
|Contact: Joseph Dougherty|