In countries where environmental conditions and infrastructure are severely degraded, clean drinking water, effective sewage and trash systems, and viable farmland are crucial to local inhabitants. Providing these things can influence whether inhabitants support the local government and U.S. goals and objectives.
"Commanders and planners can take steps in the combat phase to preserve existing environmental infrastructure and resources that will be vital once combat has ended," Mosher said. "Determining what to preserve will demand that leaders and planners take a strategic view of the operation, including what the end result ought to be."
The Army also can have a positive influence on the environment. In operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, U.S. soldiers have helped to build wells, sewage treatment plants and other water infrastructure systems, which were beneficial to both U.S. soldiers and local communities, said report co-author Beth Lachman .
In Iraq, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is helping to restore the Mesopotamian Marshlands that are significant to both regional and migratory bird species, and the local economy.
Environmental issues can also affect soldier health and safety, the costs of an operation, the logistical burden of supporting forces, and diplomatic relations. The study finds that long deployments and extended post-conflict operations like those in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans expose U.S. forces to a variety of environmental problems. At one base camp in Afghanistan, legacy pollution problems caused short-term respiratory illnesses for U.S. soldiers until the problem was identified and addressed.
The relationship between the Army and the environment is a two-way street, according to the study. On the one hand, soldiers and operations affect the environment; on the other, the environment aff
|Contact: Joseph Dougherty|