2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 6 Jan 2003 16:15:30 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Foxholes
I'd like to attempt to clarify - not necessarily to resolve - the recent
debate on this list about the difficulty that environmental protection
poses to marines and soldiers being trained to dig foxholes on domestic
ranges. This seemingly simple issue helps illustrate the complexity of
the encroachment discussion.

If all the armed services wanted to do would be to teach troops to dig
foxholes, they could easily find suitable locations. They could even
vary the soil, time, weather, and other factors. But the "train as we
fight" mantra suggests that hole-digging be integrated into a variety of
other activities - perhaps firing mortars, dismounting from helicopters,
night-fighting, cross-country travel, etc. - which have geographic
limits of their own. Many of these activities could be learned
separately, but experienced military officers believe that the more
realistic the environment for training , the more successful it will be.

However, there are already a number of reasons why our warriors do not
train as they fight. They don't practice with real battlefield nuclear
weapons. They don't fire cruise missiles because they are too costly.
They don't bayonet each other. They don't call in air support over
actual, populated cities (as part of training exercises). In fact, they
can't train exactly as they fight because they don't know where, when,
and how they will be called into action.

In my view, therefore, one must look at both the benefits and negative
consequences of each training protocol. First, is it possible to achieve
the same integration of tasks simply by changing the timing or location
of an exercise? This in fact is a common practice, and statistics that
fractions of ranges or training days are restricted does not necessarily
mean that troops are not getting requisite training.

Second, if there are conflicts that cannot be resolved, can tasks
sometimes be disaggregated, at least some of the time? I liken this to
non-contact drills in football. Wide receivers probably do better in
games if they practice running patterns and catching footballs without
being smashed by defenders on every play - training as they "fight."

Third, are traditional forms of training suitable in today's amorphous
battlefields? If we plan to send men and women to fight where there are
wedding parties and Chinese embassies, perhaps we should create training
environments which are similarly complex. Indeed, enlightened military
officers have told Congress that they use environmentally sensitive
sectors of training ranges to simulate politically sensitive areas they
expect to find in future conflicts.

The solution to the tension between environmental protection and urban
growth, on the one hand, and military readiness on the other, is not
likely to lie in abandoning one for the other. As long as we have a
military, we can expect it to train. We can expect military leaders to
attempt to create the realistic training situations. But we need not
expect our forces to do anything, anywhere, anytime in the name of readiness.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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