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This lesson discusses the US Army's environmental position as it relates to training and operations and explains the four environmental pillars.



You will identify the Army's environmental position as it relates to Army training and operations.


You will be given all material contained in this lesson. You will work at your own pace and in your own selected environment without any supervision.


You will correctly answer questions on the practice exercise at the end of the lesson.


The material contained in this lesson was derived from AR 200-1, FM 4-04.4 (FM 3-100.4), TC 3-34.489, FM 1-02, FM 1 (FM 100-1), FM 6-22, and TVT 5-56P2.



The US military's primary mission is to defend the US—its people, its land, and its heritage. National security strategy now includes specific environmental-security concerns. The American people expect the US Army to manage the financial, human, and natural resources entrusted to it in a responsible manner. The policy and vision of the Army on these issues, as well as your responsibilities as leaders, are critical to understanding how to address military environmental protection. On 19 November 1992, Secretary of the Army, Michael P. Stone, and Army Chief of Staff, General Gordon R. Sullivan, formally signed the US Army Environmental Strategy Into the 21st Century. This comprehensive document demonstrates the Army's commitment to meet present and future challenges. The strategy calls on the Army community and other functional areas to fully recognize the link between mission accomplishment and environmental stewardship. This strategy ensures that the environment and environmental stewardship are integral parts of every facet of the Army mission. If the Army's strategy is to succeed, every soldier, leader, and civilian in the force must understand and support the US Army environmental-quality goals.

1-1. Background. Strategic factors influencing international security and stability have dramatically changed. Global population and industrial activity have grown exponentially, and technological advancement has accelerated. These events have shaken the foundations of strategic analysis, fundamentally altering the relationship between the human population and the supporting natural resources. FM 1-02 (FM 101-5-1) defines the natural environment as "the human ecosystem, including both the physical and biological systems that provide resources (clean air, clean water, healthy surroundings, sufficient food) necessary to sustain productive human life. Included in the natural environment are manmade structures, such as water and wastewater treatment facilities and natural or cultural resources."

1-2. Environmental Conflict. Conflict caused or aggravated by resource scarcity is not new. What was once a local or regional problem may now extend globally. Resource scarcity could reduce the ability of governments to respond to the basic needs of their people. Access to sufficient energy supplies is of vital national interest to an industrialized nation. The resulting instability can threaten regional security and lead to armed interventions.

a. Frequently, strategic resources (minerals, oil, or coal) have been catalysts of conflict, possessing strategic significance. The widespread distribution and product substitution associated with a global economy tend to mitigate scarcity. Renewable or "sustainable" resources, such as clean air, water, cropland, or forests, are more difficult to replace and can create regional instability.

b. Environmental resource scarcity, caused by degradation or depletion of renewable resources, encourages groups to capture these resources or to migrate to find adequate resources. Environmental resources can contribute to the potential for conflict when they become environmental threats or strategic goals.

1-3. Environmental Threats. Environmental threats intensify regional instability. Threats to stability and security might result from acts of war or terrorism (the destruction of infrastructure facilities providing water or fuel). The threats (polluting the rivers or air that flows into another country) may also result from the routine activities of an industrial society. Security from these environmental threats include protective measures for natural resources; safety measures for soldiers whether at their home station or deployed; and offensive, defensive, and support actions when required to meet national security goals. Environmental threats will confront theater commanders in the form of natural resource issues as strategic and operational factors before, during, and after future conflicts.

1-4. Environmental Protection as a National Ethos.

a. As outlined in FM 1 (FM 100-1), the nation's ethos translates into national policy, national-security strategy, and military strategy. The US has often been the first nation to search for solutions to environmental problems. As environmental protection becomes increasingly important, it assumes a growing significance to operational readiness. US military forces must maximize environmental compliance and restoration efficiency to preserve funds for force structure, modernization, and training.

b. Operational readiness requires sufficient land for training individuals and units. The Army manages large training and testing areas, which are increasingly valuable as part of a diminishing inventory of undeveloped land. Often, the health of the surrounding natural ecosystem also depends on the natural habitat of these training or testing areas. Good conservation techniques preserve training areas for future military use and reduce compliance and restoration costs.

1-5. Environmental Vision. Caring for the environment begins with the Army's vision of environmental responsibility. The following vision statement from the US Army Environmental Strategy Into the 21st Century describes what the Army expects of soldiers:

"The Army will integrate environmental values into its mission in order to sustain readiness, improve the soldier's quality of life, strengthen community relationships, and provide sound stewardship of resources."

1-6. Environmental Ethic. FM 6-22 (FM 22-100) defines ethics as principles or standards that guide soldiers and professionals to do the moral or right thing. The environmental ethic is defined as follows:

"We will take care of the environment because it is the right thing to do."

The Army's environmental ethic is the operating principle and value governing soldiers, units, and the entire Army. Damage to land, water, and air are reduced by considering the effects of training, operations, and logistical activities on the environment and by managing hazardous material and waste properly. Doing what is best for the environment helps ensure that space will be available to conduct future training. Stewardship is the key element in the Army's environmental ethic. The Army is charged with protecting and defending the nation and its people, which includes safeguarding the environment. The Army is entrusted with more than 12 million acres (almost 19,000 square miles) of federal land. The American people expect the Army to use and manage these resources wisely. The Army's leaders, from squad leader to company commander, serve as basic environmental stewards. Serving in these positions, you have a professional responsibility to understand and support the Army's environmental program.

1-7. Strategy. Based on the vision and the ethic, the Army seeks to conduct operations that are environmentally sustainable, enhance the quality of life, and improve national security. The Army's strategy is to—

  • Comply with all environmental laws and regulations.

  • Prevent pollution at the source by reducing, reusing, or recycling materials that cause pollution.

  • Conserve and preserve natural and cultural resources so that they will be available for present and future generations.

  • Restore contaminated sites as quickly as possible.

Figure 1-1. Army's Environmental Strategy Model

Figure 1-1. Army's Environmental Strategy Model

The Army's environmental strategy model, Figure 1-1, illustrates the Army's environmental strategy. This strategy is founded on the bedrock of shared national values that fortify the Army and the nation. The key building blocks—people, resources, communication, management, and organization—provide the foundation for all Army activities, including environmental stewardship. These building blocks support the Army's tradition of leadership. Strong commitment to each part of the foundation is critical to ensure a solid base for environmental initiatives and long-term success. Army leadership, coupled with the building blocks, provides a sound footing for the four pillars of compliance, restoration, prevention, and conservation. These pillars represent parts of the environment that must work together. The environmental model shows how these four pillars support environmental stewardship. The Army mission, located at the top, requires the Army to manage and use natural resources wisely. Just as a building's walls support its roof, the model's four pillars support environmental stewardship. Environmental stewardship, in turn, supports the Army mission.

a. Compliance. The essence of compliance is obeying the law. Compliance includes all activities that ensure operations and activities meet federal, state, local, and applicable host nation (HN) environmental requirements. These requirements include laws and regulations for wastewater discharge, noise abatement, air quality attainment, solid waste, and hazardous-waste (HW) management.

b. Restoration. Restoration includes all activities necessary to clean up contaminated military sites. Most military units do not perform restoration; normally environmental staffs and contractors perform this function. However, to make installations safer and healthier places for soldiers and their families, the military services are now cleaning up contaminated sites. By following the principles of the other three environmental strategies, soldiers help minimize the need for restoration.

c. Prevention. Prevention is the Army's attempt to reduce or eliminate pollution. Preventing pollution is always more effective and less costly than cleaning up polluted sites. Pollution prevention includes all phases of the material management life cycle, from concept development to final disposition. Soldiers can support prevention efforts by—

  • Reducing the Amount of Waste Produced. This may include using smaller amounts of toxic materials or replacing them with less toxic substitutes, or it may include changing operating methods by increasing efficiency or preventing accidents that generate waste and residue.

  • Reusing Materials Whenever Possible. Reusing items is more cost-effective than recycling. Reuse entails using an item in its current form. Refilling containers, filtering solvents, or reusing subassemblies reduces the amount of waste that must be treated and disposed.

  • Recycling Products. This entails changing the physical composition of the item by melting it down or shredding it for use in other processes. Recycling, while less efficient than reuse, may be the only alternative for several types of waste. Many installations sponsor recycling programs to support morale, welfare, and recreation activities.

d. Conservation. Conservation includes two types of resource management: controlled use and preservation. Controlled use focuses on managing military land to ensure long-term natural resource productivity. Preservation focuses on protecting natural and cultural resources (to include endangered species) by maintaining them in their current state. Renewable resources, such as timber or training land, require controlled use. Nonrenewable resources, such as historic monuments or endangered species, require preservation. The military must balance these demands in a responsible effort to conserve natural resources and maintain readiness.

1-8. Stewardship. Along with the Army training on a vast amount of acreage, comes the responsibility of stewardship—safeguarding and enhancing our vital resources. The Army must guarantee the continuing usefulness of land by protecting the environment from the effects of current and future training operations. This is achieved in part by using the goals and objectives identified in the four pillars. Individuals, from the commander-in-chief to the newest recruit and every civilian employee, must apply stewardship to their area of responsibility.

1-9. Summary. National-security strategy now includes specific environmental-security concerns. Environmental resources can and do contribute to the potential for conflict when they become environmental threats or strategic goals. The American people expect the Army to manage entrusted financial, human, and natural resources in a responsible manner. The Army is integrating environmental considerations into its approach to war fighting. This ensures that, as the Army fights and wins future conflicts, it will protect and preserve valuable resources (soldiers and materials) and the natural environment.

Practice Exercise

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