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Military Environmental Protection is a practice that leaders and soldiers are quickly accepting as they begin to understand the relationship between military environmental protection and success on the battlefield. That "battlefield" may be training at Home Station, a rotation at one of the CTCs, a contingency operation such as the one ongoing in Bosnia-Herzegovina and surrounding areas, or total war. Why is Military Environmental Protection important to you as a leader? Because, first and foremost, it is good for you and the troops you lead. Also significant is the fact that Army senior leadership, both military and civilian, has directed us to adopt it as part of our ethics and the way we do business. Third, a growing body of laws and regulations (similar to areas such as force protection and the Law of Land Warfare) compel our participation. Finally, failure to properly apply environmental considerations costs money, money that is needed at Home Station to support the OPTEMPO. A reduced OPTEMPO reduces a unit's ability to train and maintain its readiness. The end result is the risk that our soldiers will be unprepared for the missions they will face. We as leaders cannot allow that to occur.

Military Environmental Protection is the application and integration of all aspects of natural environmental considerations as they apply to the conduct of military operations. This definition is included in FM 20-400/MCRP 4-11B, Military Environmental Protection, a manual that will become familiar to all leaders. (The additional number designation of MCRP 4-11B for the field manual is added because the Marine Corps has teamed with the Army to create this multi-service manual. The manual is scheduled to be published in the near future.) It is no mistake that the word "military" is the first word in the term. The protection piece of the term applies first to you and your soldiers and concurrently to the environment in which you live, train, or fight.

"Everyone must protect and conserve the natural environment as an individual responsibility. Seemingly minor infractions by individuals, particularly in cumulative effect, can have major effects on human health and natural habitat--or upon operating budgets. Leaders must set the example as well as to strictly enforce environmental policy and regulations. Environmental responsibility involves all of us. The environmental ethic must be part of how we live and how we train."

General Dennis Reimer, 1995, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

Your role as a leader should be ethically and legally clear. The specifics of Military Environmental Protection will come as you develop your knowledge in this area of expertise. This newsletter is intended to assist you by looking at techniques and procedures as well as insights into emerging doctrine on the application of Military Environmental Protection.

Director, Center for Army Lessons Learned

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