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"The only thing harder than getting a new idea into the military mind, is getting an old one out."

--B.H. Liddell Hart

The military's primary mission is to win this nation's wars through the application of overwhelming combat power. Warfare, by its very nature, is destructive to humans and their natural environment. Environmental damage is a consequence of combat. However, the commander in the field is often required to restrict the application of force. He must conform to the law of land warfare: those written and unwritten conventions and customs that protect against unnecessary suffering and facilitate the restoration of peace. The commander is, with increasing frequency, constrained by mission requirements that may restrict the use of much of the combat power inherent in his organization.

This newsletter is written for you, the leader. All leaders must be familiar with the application of Military Environmental Protection. It is fairly easy to articulate a leader's application of Military Environmental Protection during the two extremes of peacetime and war. In peacetime, the general guidance is to follow the rules and regulations that exist and listen to your environmental experts at the installation level. Your unit environmental compliance officer (ECO), as directed in AR 200-1, will be instrumental in assisting you as well. There will be few exceptions to the rules, whether you are based in CONUS or OCONUS. This is easy to say, but more difficult to do. In the midst of war, Military Environmental Protection tends to be less important in the short term and is less discreetly applied by the commander due to other more competitive demands and risk considerations.

The real challenge is to articulate a set of standards for the leader to apply in the "in between" cases associated with military operations other than war (MOOTW). This is the real "gray" area for its application (even though the principles will remain constant) because each situation is different and changes over time. The specific application of Military Environmental Protection will vary as well. The Bosnia lessons (techniques and procedures) provide a good thought piece for this type of mission, one of many possible contingency operations.

Today our Combat Training Centers (CTCs) tend to address Military Environmental Protection as a "white force" or administrative issue. While major pieces of Military Environmental Protection clearly lie in administrative areas, what is lacking is the application and integration of the tactical and operational piece. This is not to suggest that there should never be a decision made to use the "white force" rather than the unit to take care of a situation in the interest of optimizing the player unit time for other warfighting skills that are only trainable at the CTCs. These and other similar "balance" questions in other areas must always be considered. All of the CTCs have excellent and growing Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) programs and clearly take them very seriously. Doctrinal integration of Military Environmental Protection, however, is not being taught. Operation Plans (OPLANs) or Operation Orders (OPORDs) do not contain an environmental appendix as directed in FM 101-5. Without an environmental appendix from the Operations Group (as the higher headquarters), it is little wonder that maneuver brigade and task force (TF) commanders are not including this appendix in their respective OPLAN or OPORD. The Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) shares this same deficiency at its level. They too should include an environmental appendix (or annex) in the higher headquarters OPORD or OPLAN that is provided to the training unit. Environmental considerations and guidance comes from higher headquarters, and in most cases today, articulation of these considerations really begins in OPLANs and OPORDs at the CINC level. Environmental considerations also reside in good unit standing operating procedures (SOPs) (at all echelons) that include applicable portions of Military Environmental Protection. Military Environmental Protection can be accomplished if we train as we fight, and as we conduct contingency and combat operations. It applies across the entire spectrum of conflict.

Key to any leader discussion on Military Environmental Protection is FM 20-400/MCRP 4-11B, Military Environmental Protection. This doctrinal manual is scheduled to be published in the near future to provide leaders with the guidance necessary to integrate environmental considerations. In the interim, copies of the final draft of the manual were sent to the field. (The final draft can also be viewed and downloaded from the web at .) Leaders are also encouraged to read the current versions of FM 101-5, Staff Organization and Operations; FM 101-5-1/MCRP 5-2A, Operational Terms and Graphics; FM 100-14, Risk Management; and FM 101-5-2, U.S. Army Reports and Message Formats. Each of these manuals has already integrated the principles of Military Environmental Protection as they apply to the military decision-making process (MDMP), battle focused training, standardized reports, and risk management.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias