Manual Environmental Considerations in Military Operations

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Primary effects can include eardrum rupture, shifts in hearing abilities either temporary or permanent , and or auditory signal masking e. Secondary effects are related to physiological impacts Manci et al. Tertiary impacts consist of a combination of primary and secondary effects that can lead to population declines, species extinction, and habitat degradation Klein ; Bender ; Manci et al. Ecosystem structure has been affected by means beyond noise pollution from military aircraft. For example, during World War II WWII , aircraft acted as a vector for the transportation of exotics whereby weeds and cultivated species were brought to oceanic island ecosystems by way of aircraft landing strips used for refueling and staging stations during operations in the Pacific theatre Stoddart Prior to the war, these isolated islands were home to a number of sensitive and endemic species that had naturally dispersed to their current positions.

However, in the aftermath of aerial warfare events, large numbers of invasive species had become established on these small islands, which altered the evolutionary pathways of native species causing competitive exclusion, predation, and extinction of endemic species Mooney and Cleland Aerial warfare also has had a great influence on altering population dynamics directly. Air-to-ground assaults are known to cause elevations in wildlife mortality Zahler and Graham ; Gangwar and destroy natural habitat Levy et al.

Conventional aerial assault weapons are generally categorized into four groups, which include: These impacts have been illustrated in a number of species including Asian elephants Elephas maximus ; Chadwick ; Dudley et al. Naval conflict between foreign nations has a diverse range of effects on the marine environment. Like aircraft, ships have been implicated in introducing foreign species to otherwise uncolonisable regions under normal circumstances. This has been achieved through the dumping of ballast waters Apte et al.

As an example of the latter, the brown tree snake Boiga irregularis was introduced into Guam in just after WWII, most likely as a stowaway on boats salvaging materials from a port in New Guinea Rodda and Savidge This species has subsequently invaded all terrestrial ecosystems in Guam leading to the extirpation of many bird and lizard species, as well as a number of other native invertebrates thus having a measurable effect on the local biodiversity Rodda and Savidge Naval blasts and sonar operations during active periods of warfare have the potential to interfere with the daily lives of many aquatic species.

The acoustic frequency used by dolphins and whales coincides with that used by naval sonar devices, which can cause ear hemorrhaging and beach stranding Science Wire ; NRDC In addition to this, conventional naval ordinance e. While there are a number of negative impacts associated with naval operations, marine environments have profited from this activity in a number of ways. Fish populations greatly benefited from the activities occurring in the North Atlantic during WWII whereby sensitive and overexploited populations were given time to recover from anthropogenic disturbances and fisheries exploitation Beare et al.

If not called to assist in military services, then fishing vessels were often harboured and, therefore, excluded from fishing activity because of threats at sea from naval or aerial strikes and subsurface mining Beare et al. During this period of war, large areas in the Atlantic Ocean functioned as marine protected areas for several years, which allowed commercial fish populations to proliferate with a reduction in fishing effort Beare et al.

During this time, it was observed that the reduction in fishing mortality altered the age-structure dynamics of gadoid fisheries resulting in a larger proportion of mature and larger fish, which allowed populations to proliferate to a greater extent Beare et al.

Additionally, opportunistic species e. Indirectly, the occurrence of naval warfare allowed fisheries and other untargeted species to rebound and proliferate, which may not have otherwise occurred in its absence. Naval conflicts, particularly during WWII, also led to the creation of heterogeneous habitats that would not exist otherwise. During WWII, there was a global expansion with ocean-going vessels that navigated the coastal and pelagic waters of the Atlantic and South-Pacific oceans to engage hostile countries.

Although this led to devastating consequences for human life, the resulting ship wrecks created a large number of artificial reefs where aquatic life could colonize, utilize, and flourish Hynes et al. While there are concerns regarding long-term contamination with sunken naval craft Westing ; Martore et al. Ground warfare often takes place in sensitive and remote locations around the globe.

Indeed, a large number of biological hotspots have set the stage for major ground conflict events Hart et al. Furthermore, modern ground warfare has often altered natural landscapes and impacted wildlife in a number of different ways. Often, soldiers were positioned for on-ground battle within critical habitats of endemic and endangered species Shambaugh et al.

As one may expect, armed conflict found within terrestrial ecosystems often facilitates poaching by military forces Shambaugh et al. In contrast, there are reports of large adaptable predators, including Bengal tigers Panthera tigris tigris and grey wolves Canis lupus becoming habituated to gunfire noise on the battlefields of WWII; they were often sighted foraging on casualities in the aftermath of battles Orians and Pfeiffer ; Westing ; McNeely , which may acutely benefit the species as in the case of marine predators illustrated earlier.

The weapons employed by militaries probably pose the greatest hazard by terrestrial conflicts to ecosystem structure. The numerous explosive techniques and tools at the disposal of army forces during ground warfare have left a legacy on landscapes across the globe by leaving large craters, shrapnel, and contamination, thus devastating many ecosystems across the biosphere Westing ; Hupy ; Certini et al.

Landmines applied during active ground warfare have left a lasting legacy on the environment and still remain a major threat to biodiversity, even decades after being deployed Westing ; Roberts and Williams ; reviewed in Berhe Landmines do not differentiate between soldiers and wildlife especially large mammals and therefore, many organisms have been damaged or killed directly from landmine explosions Westing ; Shambaugh et al. Indeed, landmines have been responsible for pushing at risk species closer to extinction e. The Korean Demilitarized Zone.

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As well, areas within the DMZ are also reported as important resting locations during the north—south migration for a large proportion of the crane population in addition to numerous other bird species Higuchi et al. Adrian Pingstone, Wikimedia Commons, Artillery fire also poses a risk to the environment. During World War I and WWII, artillery weapons were positioned behind soldiers and were fired towards the opposing factions with the capability of firing hundreds of shells per hour Hupy Troops often found shelter or fought battles in forested areas resulting in heavy artillery fire on these regions, devastating the local ecosystem and associated biodiversity Hupy Decades after WWII, craters in Verdun, France, produced by heavy artillery fire still remain devoid of vegetative growth; deep craters extending to the water table cause hydric conditions, making them unsuitable for colonization by terrestrial plant species Hupy Thus, shelling can result in chronic legacy impacts in addition to acute influences e.

Terrestrial conflicts have been known to target military and civilian infrastructure to stifle opposing factions. Ground forces, in the past, have used explosives to destroy hydropower dams Sweetman ; Gleick ; Clodfelter and dikes Lacoste as a means to impede the mobility of countering factions Francis The abrupt removal of long-established dams can cause a number of ecological consequences, such as siltation, mortality of fish and wildlife populations situated above and below the dam e.

As of the late s, more than nuclear weapons tests have been conducted around the world Yang et al. Here we will review the documented and potential effects of each of these detonation impacts on ecosystem structure and function.

Introduction

Thermal emissions from nuclear blasts can have a number of impacts on local ecosystems. As such, thermal emissions pose a lethal force to any life in the vicinity of the epicentre resulting from incineration Glasstone ; Lifton as seen in the bombings of Japan Summary Report of Research in the Effects of the Atomic Bomb ; Silberner ; Ruhm et al.

Here, local vegetation is burnt and defoliated, often perishing through the extreme heat Palumbo ; Shields and Wells ; Shields et al. The spatial extent to which vegetation burning occurs is highly dependent on the status e. Some have speculated that thermal emissions may indirectly impact adjacent forests and vegetative regions, through the generation and spread of wildfires Chandler et al.

In contrast to plant life, there is comparatively little research on the effects of thermal impacts from nuclear blasts on animals, humans notwithstanding. Thermal wave exposure has been reported to cause severe whole body burns on unprotected skin in humans Oughterson et al. In the bombings of Japan, fatal burns and mild non-lethal burns were observed within 1. Additionally, thermal radiation, along with high intensity visible radiation, can also result in severe retinal burning in humans Oyama and Sasaki ; Rose et al.

There is no reason to assume that similar consequences would not be observed among terrestrial wildlife, especially mammals. Experimental tests of simulated and or actual nuclear weapons produced thermal energy exposure in rats Alpen and Sheline , dogs Brooks et al. Severe burns were also reported in teleost fish that were in close proximity to the detonation of the warhead in Bikini Atoll Donaldson et al.

This effect was also amplified under a combined thermal and radiation exposure resulting in a severely immunocompromised, physiologically disturbed individual Brooks et al. Scaling these effects up, it would be highly likely that thermal emission exposure would result in a large die-off event in the local animal life thereby reducing local populations and, potentially, reducing local species richness over an acute timeframe 0—2 weeks. It should be noted that the intensity of the burns is likely to be a product of the distance from the epicentre as the thermal wave will gradually reduce in magnitude Brooks et al.

However, this effect would not be equal for all creatures as rats on Bikini Atoll were able to avoid both thermal and kinetic emissions from warhead testing even in close proximity to the blast as a product of their subterranean existence Donaldson et al. Animals caught within the blast wave can be impacted in a number of ways.

Terrestrial species are likely to experience damage resulting from overpressure injury. Using blast pressures similar to what has been reported during nuclear explosions, rats experienced severe lung damage as well as large degrees of hemorrhaging in various regions of the body Jaffin et al. Similar effects have been noted in a number of other vertebrate species Richmond et al.

Unsurprisingly, mortality in these trials was elevated Richmond et al. Further exacerbating these effects would be the large amount of debris and shrapnel carried through the air by the blast causing injury and death to animals in the surrounding area Candole ; Mayorga This effect has been directly observed during a nuclear detonation on both humans Shaeffer ; Liebow ; Kishi and other mammalian species Goldizen et al.

Aquatic organisms are particularly sensitive to the effects of a blast. While direct evidence is rather limited in the literature, nuclear detonations in proximity to aquatic environments have been shown to result in large fish population die-offs Kirkwood ; Merritt , ; Kirkwood and Fuller ; Planes et al. This is primarily a result of the anatomical design of teleost fish having a gas-filled swim bladder that is easily ruptured upon exposure to large pressure differentials Simenstad ; Yelvertton et al.

Marine mammals, given the presence of large gas-filled lungs, would also be expected to suffer high rates of mortality under a nuclear blast resulting from severe lung damage in a manner similar to that of fish swim bladders Baxter et al. Marine mammals in proximity to a warhead detonation experienced severe lung damage and elevated mortality Kirkwood and Fuller ; Rausch This effect also extended to diving birds Kirkwood and Fuller ; Rausch Interestingly, invertebrates are not seemingly affected by pressure waves in aquatic systems Isakason ; Baxter et al.

However, not all invertebrates are equal, in respect to kinetic energy disturbances, in that warhead detonation over coral reefs leads to widespread coral death presumably through mechanical disruption from the blast Richards et al. While most of the coral community appears able to recover, highly turbid conditions generated during blasts have led to the extinction of calm water specialist coral species on some reefs Richards et al.

Both thermal and kinetic impacts of a nuclear detonation occur over an acute timeframe and would likely result in a great reduction in the abundances and diversity of local flora and fauna. However, over a more chronic duration, these impacts are likely to be minimal as populations and diversity could recover through dispersal to the area as well as contributions from surviving organisms.

Indeed, this has been observed in a number of plant Palumbo ; Shields and Wells ; Shields et al. In some instances, the exclusion of human activity from test sites has been quite beneficial to the recovery and prosperity of organisms found in these areas, as in the case of the atolls of the Marshall Islands see Fig. The Marshall Islands Reef Recovery. The Marshall Islands were home to a great number of nuclear detonations comprising a total of 66 test blasts that left the surrounding environment devastated. However, because of the area having large degrees of residual radioactivity, human exclusion from many of the test site islands has generated a marine protected area of sorts alleviating anthropogenic stress from the region Donaldson et al.

As such, the system has been allowed to recover in isolation for the greater part of the last half century and has produced some interesting results. With the exception of a few specialized species, scleractinian coral diversity has rebounded on a number of reefs affected by nuclear testing Richards et al. As well, the size-frequency distribution, an indicator of biomass, of many fish taxonomic groups within former blast sites have been observed to be much greater than that of the surrounding waters unaffected by nuclear testing Houk and Musburger While nuclear testing is devastating on an acute timescale, it may prove to be beneficial to the local ecosystem over a more chronic duration through human exclusion.

United States Department of Defense, Nuclear weapons emit a portion of their energy as ionizing, radioactive emissions either as electromagnetic radiation e. However, the effects of radioactivity on life are variable. Similar effects have been observed to occur in terrestrial mammals in both laboratory experiments Eldred and Trowbridge ; Brown et al. As previously mentioned, radiation and thermal energy exposure can work synergistically to induce higher mortality rates Brooks et al. In plants, acute radiation exposure results in tissue degradation and death under sufficiently high radioactivity levels Sparrow and Woodwell ; Shields et al.

However, the extent of tissue damage in plants varies with development state Sparrow and Woodwell ; Shields et al. Together, these effects could represent a substantial source of mortality following a weapon detonation on ecosystems on an acute time scale. Radioactive exposure may also lend itself to more chronic impacts on animal populations. In humans exposed to nuclear weapon emissions, there has been an observed elevation in the rates Bizzozero et al. Assuming this effect occurred in a similar manner as in humans Mole , it would be expected to significantly reduce life expectancies and survival in wild animals.

Chronic radiation effects may also result in the development of chromosomal and or genetic aberrations Hatch et al. While extremely limited data exist, reduced reproductive capacities in wild animals have been noted at detonation sites Turner et al. However, this effect seems to be variable as a few species at weapons test sites seem to have no genetic or macroscopic level impacts Hatch et al.

The overall effects of these long-term impacts are relatively uncertain and could have variable consequences on a given population depending on the strength and type of the effect. However, it should be noted that because of the high degree of hazard i. Indeed, these areas have been demonstrated to have quite diverse and thriving ecosystems that are often in a better ecological state when compared to similar areas where routine human activity is present see Fig.

Thus, sites devoted to nuclear arms production and testing can still be considered a positive feature in maintaining biodiversity despite the potential for chronic health impacts in resident organisms. The impacts of war on ecosystems are not limited to armed conflict events, but can be connected to, and influenced by, the development and operational use of military training bases. A military training base is a general designation applied to military facilities that house military equipment and personnel, and facilitate training exercises and tactical operations Kazmarek et al.

The variation in size and operational use of military training bases leads to a broad spectrum of anthropogenic impacts, both in type and severity, on the local ecosystem Owens ; Rideout and Walsh ; Goldsmith These impacts can be broken down into two broad categories: In this section, we will focus our discussion on the effects of development and operations of military training bases including air, naval, and terrestrial on ecosystem structure and function. The environmental impacts associated with the construction of infrastructure projects are site specific Augenbroe and Pearce ; Tang et al.

For example, the development of naval ports and shipyards are more likely to have a greater contamination risk of adjacent water bodies than the development of a terrestrial airstrip, which can be situated miles from water sources and surrounded by a natural vegetation buffer zone Tull ; Mortberg et al. Even the construction of similar base infrastructure, situated in different locales, are subject to different environmental impacts based on the landscape and ecosystem they are built within and thus impacts are highly site specific Kazmarek et al.

Although construction projects are associated with site-specific environmental impacts, the focus of this section is not to dissect these site-specific characteristics, but to address some overarching impacts on ecosystems that are germane to most military base development projects. There are several generic impacts associated with the construction of most complex infrastructure projects. Some of these impacts include habitat degradation, soil erosion, and chemical contamination Westing ; Tang et al. Initial site development requires the clearing of vegetation and trees, followed by intensive soil excavation and compaction.

This process alters the natural landscape by the removal of existing vegetation and the prevention of future vegetation growth Kopel et al. The removal of vegetation coupled with soil excavation increases the potential for soil erosion, and reduces water infiltration rates, altering the landscape ecology by changing soil structure and chemistry, and increasing water runoff rates Tang et al.

Chemical contamination of local water sources can also occur from increased water runoff carrying sediments and chemicals associated with waste dumping e. However, the establishment of military training bases can also have beneficial impacts on biodiversity at the local, regional, and global scale. For effective combat training in real-world scenarios, military training bases need to be large and encompass a wide variety of environments and climates Stephenson et al.

Depending on the specific nature and use of military training areas, public and commercial access are usually restricted because of safety and security issues. This creates great tracts of land largely devoid of human contact and commercial development, preserving these wilderness areas, which have been lost to human development elsewhere Rideout and Walsh ; Doxford and Judd ; Zentelis and Lindenmayer Military training areas have been increasingly recognized as areas of high biodiversity, and in particular, for harbouring endangered and at-risk species Fig.

It has been estimated that, in the United States alone, over federally listed endangered species inhabit military training areas; which is more endangered species per area within military installations compared to other federally managed lands in the United States Doxford and Judd ; Pekins ; Zentelis and Lindenmayer Aside from these training lands supporting IUCN red-listed species, they also support highly diverse landscapes. It is also important to recognize the significance of military training areas to provide key habitat for wide-ranging megafauna species such as bears, ungulates, coyotes, and wolves that require large tracts of land for foraging and hunting Gese et al.

This extended global coverage makes military training lands important areas for biodiversity conservation and preservation Zentelis and Lindenmayer , notwithstanding the fact that the type of activities that occur on these sites could rapidly alter biodiversity. Recognizing the importance of military facilities in conserving biodiversity, the US has begun rehabilitating former training sites to serve as nature preserves Coates ; Havlick As of , 15 of these areas have been developed in an effort to promote and conserve the biodiversity of these regions Havlick In this way, military facilities are of great benefit to sustaining and conserving biodiversity.

Military training bases have long been known as areas of high biodiversity and, as of late, these vast military training landscapes are becoming increasingly recognized as important refuge areas for IUCN red-listed species Zentelis and Lindenmayer A case study examination conducted by Stein et al. This case study identified a significantly greater density and diversity of endangered and imperiled species inhabiting military training lands, compared to all other federally managed lands across the country.

Polihale Wikimedia Commons, The environmental impacts associated with the upkeep of military infrastructure and equipment have been a growing concern. Many military bases have been targeted for environmental assessment and site remediation Kazmarek et al. Military infrastructure and equipment is subject to rigorous use, often under extreme conditions, creating the need for constant maintenance and upkeep.

This maintenance leads to the generation of large quantities of hazardous wastes including heavy metals, solvents, corrosives, paints, fuel, and oils Brady ; Kazmarek et al. When these hazardous wastes are improperly stored or disposed of, it can cause serious water contamination and habitat degradation issues, which can directly affect biodiversity Edwards ; Osuji and Nwoye The Otis Air Base in the United States has received significant attention over the past few decades because of the extensive contamination of groundwater caused from fuel spills and aircraft maintenance Kazmarek et al.

Similarly, the Norton Air Force Base in the US is under scrutiny for its poor approach of storing hazardous wastes in above- and below-ground storage drums, which have begun to leak, causing environmental contamination issues Brady However, poor environmental planning at military bases appears to be a common theme. The US Environmental Protection Agency has listed over 53 military bases on the National Priorities List of sites that pose direct hazards to human health and the environment Brady ; Kazmarek et al.

Unfortunately, the majority of the literature on the environmental impacts associated with the upkeep of military infrastructure and equipment is focused mainly on the USA with, comparatively, little known about such issues in other jurisdictions. Live-fire training has similar impacts on the environment as those discussed in the active armed conflict section, with respect to local landscape alteration and vegetation destruction, chemical and heavy metal contamination, and the incidental killing or maiming of wildlife.

However, there are also differences in environmental impacts of live-fire training that occur in training facilities as opposed to actual armed conflict events Owens ; Goldsmith Training facilities are faced with the challenge of repeated use of live-fire training shooting ranges, which leads to consistent site-specific degradation and contamination. The most common and extensive life-fire training occurs on small arms ranges Goldsmith , which are associated with extensive heavy metal contamination, with lead being the most notable contaminant Cao et al. The weathering and oxidation of lead bullets leads to the contamination of soils, groundwater, and surface water sources.

It has been noted that high lead concentration in soils can reduce vegetation growth and species richness Cao et al. Other forms of live-fire training involve the use of advanced high-power weaponry including, but not limited to, artillery and mortars, multiple-launch rocket systems, hand grenades, and anti-tank weapons Rideout and Walsh ; Doxford and Judd ; Pekins These high-powered weapons require special training areas to safely contain the blast radius and noise from civilian areas.

This type of weapon training can create significant habitat damage by cratering the terrain and altering the species composition within the area. Specifically, these highly disturbed landscapes can suffer from degraded soil structure and quality, and are reduced to disturbance-tolerant flora and fauna species Fehmi et al. Armoured vehicles denote all tracked and wheeled military vehicles used for combat and transport Johnson and are essential in most conflict situations because of their long-range firing capacity, protective armour, and all-terrain maneuverability Doxford and Judd These vehicles are generally outfitted with heavy armour and weaponry, making them extremely heavy, with some vehicles weighing upwards of 60 metric tons.

Because of the heavy weight of these vehicles, terrain compaction is a significant issue that can have detrimental impacts on the soil and vegetation communities Lathrop ; Foster et al. Armoured manoeuvre training is seen as being particularly damaging and persistent Doxford and Judd , especially in fragile environments, such as the Mojave Desert Johnson The conditions for when armoured manoeuvre training occurs can also influence the severity of the impact on the landscape; operations during wet spring conditions can cause enlarged track ruts and higher rates of vegetation removal Johnson ; Watts ; Dickson et al.

In frequently used landscapes, tracked vehicles have been noted to reduce total plant and woody vegetation cover, and increase soil erosion rates Johnson ; Wilson Armoured manoeuvre training can also lead to changes in soil structure and chemistry with frequently used sites having lower carbon to nitrogen ratios, as well as reduced soil carbon content Garten et al. Certain training exercises in wooded areas can be particularly degrading on vegetation communities, as tracked vehicles can often be used as bulldozers to clear paths and sight lines Rideout and Walsh Armoured vehicle operations have also been linked to incidentally hitting and killing wildlife during training exercises Zakrajsek and Bissonette ; Telesco and Van Manen Aside from terrestrial armoured vehicle training, military training areas are intensively used for fighter jet and helicopter training exercises Black et al.

The largest environmental impact associated with aviation exercises is hitting and killing birds during flight manoeuvres Richardson and West ; Civil Aviation Authority ; Zakrajsek and Bissonette Bird—aircraft collisions are particularly serious as they can often cause a loss of human life and damage to or destruction of aircraft. The most vulnerable bird species to aircraft collisions noted by the USAF included raptors, waterfowl, and passerines Lovell and Dolbeer ; Zakrajsek and Bissonette Because of the high risk of bird—aircraft collisions, special measures have been taken at airstrips to reduce bird strike hazards.

These precautionary measures include reducing attractive installations near airfields e. Naval military training exercises can have negative impacts on marine life. Noise pollution can be generated from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, mechanical and propeller noise, gun discharges, explosives detonations, and the use of sonar technologies Parsons et al. The latter source has received a lot of research attention and has been noted to negatively impact large marine mammals in various ways reviewed in Parsons et al.

Active sonar systems range from low-frequency levels, 1 Hz — 1 kHz, to mid-frequency levels, 1—10 kHz Dolman et al. When operational, both low- and mid-frequency systems emit high-intensity sound into the ocean and listen for echoes that provide a sonic image of the ocean environment Dolman et al. This type of imaging technology is highly useful for military operations, but it can impact the behaviour and survival of large marine mammals Balcomb and Claridge ; Madsen Marine mammals rely on echolocation for most biological aspects of their lives, and the use of sonar technologies has been linked to disrupting their signaling abilities.

This can interfere with foraging, reproduction, communication, and their predator detection abilities Rendell and Gordon ; Miller et al. The use of sonar technology has also been linked to mass stranding mortality events in cetacean species, most notably in beaked whales reviewed in Parsons et al. Dry troop training refers to dismounted infantry exercises and is widely practiced by militaries around the world.

This type of training can have a wide range of environmental impacts determined by the size of the infantry and the nature of the exercise itself Fehmi et al. Dismounted infantry can cause vegetation destruction, alter soil structuring, and increase soil erosion from repetitive use of designated training areas Whitecotton et al. Realistic training requires infantry to dig defensive positions for combat, and tent ditches for sleep and rest, further increasing soil erosion rates Trumbull et al.

Dismounted infantry exercises can also negatively affect wildlife distribution in active training areas where infantry presence can act to deter large mammal species including black bears Ursus americanus , mule deer Odocoileus hemionus , and coyotes Canis latrans Stephenson et al. Although wildlife avoidance of such activities reduces likelihood of direct mortality, the disturbance and displacement can have sublethal consequences. Military conflict is associated with the testing, production, transportation, and deployment of weapons.

At each of these stages, there exists the potential for environmental contamination Dudley et al ; Machlis and Hanson In a warfare context, chemicals can be manufactured for use in weapons to cause direct human mortality and or to alter landscapes to gain strategic tactical advantages that can expose the surrounding ecosystems to potentially toxic compounds Stellman et al. Military activities also have the potential to indirectly contaminate the environment through various by-products and spills associated with warfare, as in the case of fuels and compounds used in maintaining vehicle operation Brady ; Dudley et al ; Machlis and Hanson Chemicals in the broader sense , such as hydrocarbons and metals, can have immediate destructive and toxic effects that may also persist for long periods of time in soil, water, and the tissues of animals, all posing legacy issues.

This section will aim to review how military actions contribute to harmful chemical contamination at the different stages of warfare and their subsequent effect on ecosystems with a particular focus on wildlife. Military chemical production and testing facilities require massive attention due to hazardous waste accidents, spills, and dumping as the production of chemicals can be highly volatile.

These chemicals are required for the day-to-day operation of the military, as well as in weapons development. In the United States, military training facilities and bases are responsible for localized contamination from the dumping of chemicals directly into the environment causing regional waterbodies, including drinking water sources, in the area to become toxic Brady ; Miller et al.

(U//FOUO) U.S. Army Environmental Considerations During Military Operations

Contaminated reservoirs on US army bases have caused the deaths of thousands of waterfowl from drinking water on site Lanier-Graham Similar pollution conditions are present in Russia where dioxin pesticides have been disposed of improperly resulting in soil and water contamination, thereby affecting the surrounding vegetation negatively Sidel Additionally, weapons testing, such as those done in Puerto Rico, Bikini Atoll, and the United States, can result in significant soil, groundwater, and marine contamination of chemicals and metals, which may include mercury, iron, and plutonium.

This could have deleterious consequences to local vegetation and marine organisms in these regions resulting in food chain disturbances Donaldson et al. All of these pre-war activities can lead to soil, water, and vegetation contamination and have negative impacts on the wildlife that interacts with these contaminated areas.

Chemical warfare agents are weapons employed by the military to cause direct human mortality Ganesan et al. Many of the products developed as chemical warfare agents have highly toxic and damaging properties intended for human targets, but may have negative impacts on other species as well. These chemicals can fall under five main categories of weapon effects: Most chemical agents that can harm humans are toxic to other vertebrates and can injure or kill some aquatic organisms at high concentrations.

Often, these chemicals persist in plant tissue resulting in developmental issues and can be potentially toxic to herbivores upon consumption Coppock ; Ganesan et al. Bullets and related debris e. Lead, one of the more commonly used metals in bullets and casings, has toxic properties that are highly detrimental to a number of organ systems in vertebrates including the nervous system Burger and Gochfeld ; Papanikolaou et al. Leftover shells or fragments after combat can result in accidental ingestion by many bird species, who consume small particles inadvertently, or as grit to aid in their digestion Fisher et al.

Depleted uranium shells or casings are also used by some factions and can cause localized soil and sediment contamination Haavisto et al. Uranium toxicity is of concern to exposed terrestrial and freshwater plants, freshwater invertebrates and vertebrates, and mammals Sheppard et al.

In mammals, uranium toxicity can be highly detrimental to development, brain chemistry, behaviour, and kidney function Briner Not all chemical warfare agents used are directly targeted at humans. Herbicides have also been used, during combat operations, to alter landscapes and reduce foliage to enhance visibility Westing ; Stellman et al. Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam War — , was one of several types of dioxin-based herbicides sprayed by United States forces to destroy crops and obstructing vegetation Orians and Pfeiffer ; Westing , ; Stellman et al.

During this war, the landscapes in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were exposed to over 77 million L of herbicides covering some million hectares of land Nguyen Over the past three to four decades, various studies have attempted to evaluate environmental damage caused by these events and to assess their long term effects. In doing so, it was apparent that the defoliation of the landscape resulted in immediate tree and shrub mortality in addition to the local extirpation of many large mammals such as ungulates, carnivores, and elephants Westing , ; Orians and Pfeiffer The application of large quantities of concentrated herbicides can alter the local community structure as well.

In Vietnam, forested and mangrove-dominated habitats have become scrubby grasslands, greatly changing the community assemblages Dinh ; Westing ; Nguyen Surveys comparing un-impacted habitat with that inflicted with herbicide found notably less species diversity Westing In attempting to evaluate how biodiversity was affected, researchers have made broad assumptions based off of limited observations and local indigenous knowledge. Orians and Pfeiffer used these methods and suggested that regions of Vietnam experienced a decline in bird species richness post conflict, specifically in those consuming insects and fruit.

An additional long-term problem associated with herbicide exposure is bioaccumulation and the persistence of these chemicals in the environment. After the Vietnam War, high concentrations of dioxins were found in the ovaries and livers of turtles Schecter et al. This effect was also demonstrated in tissues isolated from local pigs and chickens, likely resulting from a combination of residual Agent Orange and other herbicidal exposure over the past few decades Schecter et al.

The probable effect level was 46 times higher than the standard value for soil, even 30 years after the initial chemical deployment illustrating a capacity of these chemicals to have chronic impacts on the ecosystem. Military activity is a highly mobile system occurring at multiple spatial scales e.


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The Gulf War oil spill of resulted in over 10 million m 3 of oil and heavy metals intentionally dumped into the ocean Fig. Studies on benthic invertebrates, such as snails and clams immediately after the spill were found to have significantly higher levels of Zn, Cu, and Ni in their tissues Bu-Olayan and Subrahmanyam A decade after the spill, studies on the tissues of crabs showed high levels of Zn and Cu, along with detectable levels of other heavy metals, demonstrating the persistence of these compounds in the ecosystem Al-Mohanna and Subrahmanyam Oil contamination in Arabian Gulf.

After the Gulf War oil spill in , coral reef species demonstrated substantial resilience to seawater temperature decreases and toxic hydrocarbon fallout Downing and Roberts ; Vogt The Arabian Gulf is home to several diverse coral reef communities both inshore and offshore. From until , coral species cover was estimated at six different locations off the coasts of Kuwait and Saudia Arabia using video recordings and diving teams.

The combined results of two independent studies found that Downing and Roberts ; Vogt , after an estimated 6—8 million barrels of oil were added to the Arabian Gulf, there was no observable declines in coral reef health. Instead, from to , Vogt observed significantly increasing trends in coral cover. Today, coral reef health is subject to climate change and increasing marine ecosystem pollution, which makes modern coral surveys unable to tease out any direct evidence of long-term effects of the Gulf War on coral communities Downing and Roberts ; Al-Cibahy et al.

The long-term effects of chemicals results from both their potential persistence and the poor disposal programs of nations with stockpiled weapons. After WWII, chemical warfare agents, such as mustard gases and arsenic poisons, were packaged in barrels and directly disposed of in the ocean Chepesuik ; Smith ; a common practice across the globe at the time. Disposal of these vessels in the ocean runs the risk of the metal-based containers corroding and leaching the chemical contents of the vessel into the ocean; an effect that could lead to a localized exposure to the chemical as well as more widespread impacts via trophic movements Long Adamsite, a component found in chemical weapons, was found to be consistently present in the tissues of Atlantic cod demonstrating bioamplification and accumulation of these substances in higher trophic levels.

However, that study did not take into account the number of buried munitions and containers on the seafloor that could reintroduce high levels of chemicals to the surrounding area as the containers holding them degrade and corrode. Regardless, this represents a pathway by which contaminants may be spread throughout the various components of the ecosystem. Similarly, wreckages from naval ships pose certain risks for the marine ecosystem in which they are found. Much of the oil still resides within these wrecks and will pose future problems as the vessels begin to degrade Westing ; Monfils In much the same manner, during the conflict in Kosovo, shelling of civilian infrastructure, namely, manufacturing plants, resulted in a significant but unintentional emission of industrial contaminants into the environment Haavisto et al.

Attention and care needs to be present during all stages of warfare, as contamination events are common throughout training and active war with their effects persisting well after the conflict has been resolved. Stringent policies are recognized as necessary to hold militaries accountable for cleanup before training facilities can be returned to the public. Indeed, many Western nations have adopted policies that require strict environmental management and concern on home soil Durant ; Ramos et al.

However, it should be noted that during war outside of their respective countries, these policies are not necessarily followed. One undeniable benefit that environmental and conservation science has reaped from military research and development is the ability to utilize and refine resulting technological advances.

Military research and development teams share a common interest with ecological and environmental researchers in needing to collect meaningful information more efficiently. An exhaustive list of military developments used in everyday applications would include everything from computing systems and the internet to nylon material that makes field equipment durable and light-weight Alic et al.

However, there are a few notable technologies that have been crucial to shaping modern ecological research. Today, satellite imagery has paved the way for the development of GIS spatial analyses, the backbone of evaluating large-scale spatial patterns and trends Goodchild GIS permits investigators to relate spatially organized data to other variables, such as weather, animal abundance, or natural resource quantities.

Remote sensing technologies have military roots as well, and involve either passive or active gathering of energy to help locate and identify objects Turner et al. Electromagnetic energy, detected by satellites, is commonly used to accomplish tasks, such as assessing wildlife spatial distribution and calculating species diversity Turner et al. Similarly, RADAR technology actively uses radio waves to locate objects and obstructions with system advances being developed between the British and American forces during the s Science News Letter Remote operated vehicles ROVs including aerial drones, marine vehicles, and terrestrial vehicles were originally developed by military organizations for training operations, bomb recovery, and hostile terrain observations Springer Now, aerial ROVs are used in conservation to film and survey overhead parks, to monitor wildlife, and to look for illegal activity, such as poaching and unauthorized logging Sutherland et al.

Marine ROVs have been employed to monitor marine life as well as being used as a potential tool in gaining valuable insight into the system in question Cohen ; Jones ; Moura et al. Integration of autonomous technology has huge advantages in ecological studies that are often limited by man-power and overwhelmed by spatial scales; ROVs can efficiently extend work periods and area covered without human intervention. Lastly, advances in telemetry technology by the military have greatly improved conservation research through the miniaturization of tag components e.

Not only has this greatly improved the performance, operation, and capabilities of many of these devices Cooke , but it has permitted them to be deployed on a greater number of species and weight classes as the mass of the tag has often been a limiting factor in determining the lower size limit of their use Olival and Higuchi ; Bridge et al. War is a perilous activity that makes for a poor research environment. Additionally, because of the stochastic nature of war e. To the extent possible, conducting research of military activities in a before—after-control-impact framework would help to elucidate the environmental consequences and thus reveal opportunities for mitigating negative effects while informing the development of optimal strategies for rehabilitation and recovery.

There also exists an apparent taxonomic bias in the literature presented here whereby mammals, fish, and plants are often the studied components of the impacted system, presumably as a result of some perceived importance and or ease of access. Given that war is unlikely to be eliminated from society, the literature should further expand to include other taxonomic representations and or focus on species that are vital to ecological functioning e. It may be of relevance and use to develop a mesocosm model system whereby the various impacts of warfare could be modelled in a controlled environment to aid in developing an impact model at the whole ecosystem level under a variety of climatic and environmental scenarios.

The impacts of conflict, nuclear weapons, training operations, and chemical contaminations all contribute to both reductions in the populations of local flora and fauna as well as reducing species diversity in the affected ecosystems. Impacts were demonstrated in a number of environments with a diversity of taxonomic groups represented with war resulting in both acute and chronic impacts on the ecosystem.

A general overview of the impacts induced by the various aspects of war can be found in Fig. In some instances, warfare is a positive force in ecosystem functioning whereby unintentional human exclusion provides refugia for a variety of species and, in some cases, provides suitable habitat for endangered or threatened species.

Some of these beneficial impacts are illustrated in Figs. Additionally, research into developing military technology has benefitted ecosystem functioning, indirectly, through providing a wide diversity of technological tools and devices that are employed by many researchers involved with conservation and ecological sciences.

Moreover, new technologies and militarily unique substances continue to be developed and deployed such that the threats are dynamic. With humanity continually engaging in war, the biosphere is likely to continue to suffer. Overview of the potential deleterious impacts of warfare on the environment including terrestrial, aerial, and naval theatres of war. There seems to be little evidence that military strategists consider environmental consequences of military activities when planning or executing military actions related to conflict.

We submit that there is much scope for proactive efforts to consider the environment and biodiversity in formulating military plans. Yet, we also recognize that at the end of the day, battlefield supremacy and achieving military objectives will likely continue to trump any and all concerns related to the environment during active conflict Westing The situation is somewhat different for training facilities or other military installations during the preparatory and readiness phases, at least in developed countries, where there is legal obligation to address environmental concerns e.

Unfortunately, most warfare occurs in developing countries that tend to have unstable governance structures where there is limited capacity for developing environmental policy or addressing environmental issues that arise following conflict Westing The policy implications of warfare are beyond the scope of this article, but nonetheless, we wish to emphasize greater need for global consideration of the environmental consequences of warfare with efforts to develop policy instruments and agreements that consider the environment sensu Gasser ; Mrema et al.

The findings of the synthesis presented here are clear — the consequences of modern warfare are overwhelmingly negative for the environment and biodiversity. Indeed, although not quantified, it is not unreasonable to think that modern warfare is one of the major forces associated with environmental issues and biodiversity declines in some regions. The authors would like to thank J. Nguyen for their insight into military environmental policies and procedures that helped shape this paper. Westing, and an anonymous reviewer for kindly commenting on drafts of this manuscript.

All authors contributed equally to the design, research, writing, and editing of this work. In this paper Top of page Introduction Active armed conflict Nuclear warfare Military infrastructure and bases Military contamination The up-shot: Aerial assault Aircraft both rotary and fixed-wing are commonly used in military operations and can produce bursts of noise e.

Naval operations Naval conflict between foreign nations has a diverse range of effects on the marine environment. Terrestrial conflict Ground warfare often takes place in sensitive and remote locations around the globe. Thermal impacts Thermal emissions from nuclear blasts can have a number of impacts on local ecosystems. Radiation impacts Nuclear weapons emit a portion of their energy as ionizing, radioactive emissions either as electromagnetic radiation e. Environmental impacts of military base development The environmental impacts associated with the construction of infrastructure projects are site specific Augenbroe and Pearce ; Tang et al.

Operations of a military training base The environmental impacts associated with the upkeep of military infrastructure and equipment have been a growing concern. Training activities Live-fire training has similar impacts on the environment as those discussed in the active armed conflict section, with respect to local landscape alteration and vegetation destruction, chemical and heavy metal contamination, and the incidental killing or maiming of wildlife.

Pre-war contamination Military chemical production and testing facilities require massive attention due to hazardous waste accidents, spills, and dumping as the production of chemicals can be highly volatile. Active combat contamination Chemical warfare agents are weapons employed by the military to cause direct human mortality Ganesan et al.

Post-war environmental impacts associated with disposal The long-term effects of chemicals results from both their potential persistence and the poor disposal programs of nations with stockpiled weapons. Research gaps related to the effects of warfare on ecosystem structure and function. Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank J. The radiological impact of the Chernobyl debris compared with that from nuclear weapons fallout. Conservation of marine ecosystems with a special view to coral reefs in the gulf. In Coral Reefs of the Gulf. Flux of heavy metal accumulation in various organs of the intertidal marine blue crab, Portunus pelagicus L.

The combined effects of thermal burns and whole body X-irradiation ion survival time and mortality. Evaluation of underwater contamination by explosives and metals at Point Amour Labrador and in the Halifax Harbour area. Sustainable construction in the U. Available from the Sustainable Development and the Future of Construction. A mass stranding of cetaceans caused by naval sonar in the Bahamas.

Effects of ionizing radiation on terrestrial plants and animals: Sharks of the east coast of southern Africa.

(U//FOUO) U.S. Army Environmental Considerations During Military Operations | Public Intelligence

The genus Carcharhinus Carcharhinidae. Reduction of mortality in swine from combined total body radiation and thermal burns by streptomycin. Mortality of fish subjected to explosive shock as applied to oil well severance on Georges Bank. An unintended experiment in fisheries science: Beasley G, Kneale P. Reviewing the impacts of metals and PAHs on macroinvertebrates in urban watercourses.

Noise impact on wildlife: The state of coral reef ecosystems of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Edited by Waddell, J. The contribution of landmines to land degradation. Flow cytometric analysis of the effects of low-level radiation exposure on natural populations of slider turtles Pseudemys scripta Arch. Radiation-related leukemia in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, — Effects of low level military training flights on wading bird colonies in Florida.

Section III presents situations from each of the combat training centers CTCs and provides lessons for units to understand the environmental challenges of planning and conducting training.

The integration of environmental considerations into training is very similar to the integration of safety and force protection issues. Training is key to accomplishing the mission. Understanding environmental aspects of the training mission can help mitigate the risk environmental conditions pose to Soldiers and mission success. Section IV covers environmental considerations during operational deployments. Environmental considerations have several implications for military operations that affect all levels of war. Once units leave the home station area and begin training or mobilization operations, their focus shifts to accomplishing their combat mission and, consequently, environmental awareness tends to decrease.

This decline may cost the commander much needed time, personnel, and other resources. Integrating environmental considerations early in the MDMP for both training and mobilization operations will help ensure that we continue to fight as we train. During the first Gulf War, a U.

The mm rounds hit and silenced the Iraqi unit; however, the resulting collateral damage caused the unintentional release of a toxic cloud of hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. The cloud blew over a herd of camels and other livestock, causing their deaths. A post-operations investigation determined that the consequences would have been disastrous if friendly forces or non-combatants were downwind of the refinery. They would disperse similarly as chemical warfare agents.

The vapors tend to remain concentrated downwind from a release point and in natural low-lying areas such as valleys, ravines, or manmade underground structures. The commander and staff must conduct an intelligence preparation of the battlefield IPB during the mission analysis phase of the military decision-making process MDMP.