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Abstract

Recent experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans have highlighted the importance of environmental considerations. These range from protecting soldier health and disposing of hazardous waste to building water supply systems and other activities that help achieve national goals in the post-conflict phase of contingency operations. The Army has become increasingly involved with environmental issues in every contingency operation and must be better prepared to deal with them. This study assesses whether existing policy, doctrine, and guidance adequately address environmental activities in post-conflict military operations and reconstruction. Findings are based on reviews of top-level policy and doctrine, analysis of operational experience, extensive interviews with diverse Army personnel, and a review of operational documentation and literature. From these sources, a database of 111 case studies was created. The research showed that environmental concerns can have far-reaching and significant impacts on the Army, both direct and indirect, especially in terms of cost, current operations, soldier health, diplomatic relations, reconstruction activities, and the ultimate success of the operation or the broader mission. Some evidence suggests that environmental problems may have even contributed to insurgency in Iraq. Recommendations include updating current policy and doctrine to fully address environmental considerations in contingency operations; ensuring that contractors are carefully selected and managed; and transmitting proactive field environmental practices and lessons throughout the Army.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    The Context for Environmental Considerations in Contingency Operations

  • Chapter Three

    Experience with Environmental Considerations in Contingency Operations

  • Chapter Four

    Analysis of Army Operational Experience

  • Chapter Five

    Findings and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Domestic and International Law in Army Contingency Operations

  • Appendix B

    The Importance of Environmental Conditions to the Local Populace in Iraq

  • Appendix C

    Case Studies of Operational Experiences

Book Review Excerpts

"The Army will need to master a range of green practices — from recycling motor oil to reducing plastic waste — in order to succeed in the drawn-out stability operations of Iraq and Afghanistan. During long engagements, toxic environments threaten soldiers' health; waste disposal creates logistical and security nightmares; clean water and viable farmland are crucial to winning over the locals; and discarded hazardous materials can blow up unexpectedly or provide targets for terrorists."

- The Atlantic, December 2008

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by RAND Arroyo Center.

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