Rumsfeld: Military Readiness Linked to Conservation
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
ST. LOUIS, Aug. 29, 2005 The Defense Department has been working with both governmental and nongovernmental organizations to promote environmental conservation, because military readiness and conservation are inextricably linked, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said here today.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld addresses the 4th Annual White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation on Aug. 29 in St. Louis. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Speaking at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation, Rumsfeld said the DoD takes very seriously its responsibility to protect the natural resources on the 30 million acres of land it uses to house forces and test weapons.
"Conservation is much more than a duty," he said. "It is really a proud part of the department's heritage."
Readiness is improved by conservation when military ranges are protected and maintained, giving troops a place to prepare for war, Rumsfeld said.
"Their preservation is essential, because training wins wars and saves lives," he said.
Military readiness and environmental conservation are also linked at military bases that once were far from civilization but now are in the center of encroaching development, Rumsfeld explained. In these cases, the DoD is working with conservation groups and other agencies to limit development, he said, and solve problems such as suburban growth, noise complaints and air-space restrictions.
"These partnerships can help forestall development and can protect habitats, thereby conserving our natural resources, while allowing U.S. forces to train relatively free of encroachment-related issues," he said.
Rumsfeld cited the Northwest Florida Greenway project as an example. This venture partnered DoD with three nongovernmental organizations, seven state agencies, three regional and local agencies and two federal agencies to conserve open space along a 100-mile corridor in northwest Florida. This area is home to five major military installations that constitute one of the largest open-air military test areas in the country, he said.
Similar conservation projects are under way in California, Colorado, South Carolina, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota and North Carolina, Rumsfeld said.
Beyond the state level, the DoD is beginning a Southeast Regional Planning pilot project that could include four southeastern states and four military services, he added.
Partnerships between government and nongovernmental agencies are essential for the future of conservation planning, where there will be expanding competition for scarce resources, Rumsfeld said.
"With new partnerships, the Department of Defense is seeking to fulfill a mission that is as old as the military," he said. "The United States armed forces can and will continue to work to protect America - both our lands, as well as our fellow citizens."
The three-day White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation is bringing together more than 1,200 leaders from federal, state, local and tribal government, industry, academia, nonprofit environmental organizations and private landowners.
President Bush convened the conference to provide a forum for leaders to exchange information and identify innovative and effective approaches to promoting cooperative conservation.