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Awareness of the impact to the environment for each operation helps future operations and in peacetime saves vital resources. Using sound environmental practices during peacetime aids in soldiers performing their mission during wartime without excessive damage or permanently altering the environment. Human error causes many environmental problems caused by the Army. These human errors in peacetime in the United States and in host nations (HN) now result in monetary and punitive actions being taken against the individual, not the unit. Below are some major reasons for human error.

  • Command failure--clear, practical standards do not exist at the lowest level.
  • Training failure--standards exist, but adherence to the standards is not stressed during training.
  • Leader failure--standards are taught but not enforced.
  • Individual failure--standards are known but not followed.

Environmental Standards

Realistic training can be done without permanent damage to the environment. Environmental laws and regulations do not hinder training. They should be considered during the planning process and employed at all levels of planning and execution. Commanders can use the following steps to help their unit practice environmentally sound training and operations that do not permanently harm the environment.

Set high standards

Ensure all unit members know the state or HN environmental laws for the location of the operation. Environmental adherence is mandatory.

Know your soldiers

The newly assigned soldier may not be familiar with the local (state or HN) environmental laws. These new soldiers will be trained by the unit environmental officer. He will keep the commander informed of the environmental status of the unit.

Know your equipment

Know the condition of all equipment in your unit. Many check sheets and publications are available to guide in determining the status of the equipment.

Apply dispatch discipline

Many environmental hazards involve equipment that should not be operated. Tough-minded dispatch discipline reduces environmental contamination. Hold the appropriate leaders accountable for the condition of their equipment.

Manage risks in training

Integrate the requirement for environmental stewardship with the demand for realistic combat training. Environmental stewardship is achieved through the management of inherent mission risks.

Maintain awareness

Always be aware of the mission-critical importance of environmental stewardship in your operations. Do not allow yourself to relax your vigil and become complacent when everything is running smoothly. Constant awareness of the requirement for including environmental considerations in all day-to-day unit operations is key to keeping peak readiness.

Risk Management

Integrate environmental stewardship into the planning and application phases of operations. Besides analyzing the task, this allows the leader to manage risk. Risk management is smart decision making. It focuses on task accomplishment while reducing the hazards that could cause environmental damage. Since all soldiers make decisions that entail environmental use, risk management techniques apply to soldiers at all levels. Leaders must train to use risk management skills and techniques to establish standards that effectively balance risk with operational objectives. There is a risk assessment work sheet below to help leaders plan safe training exercises.

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