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War and the Environment. Passive Use of Environment Collateral Effects Use of Environment as a Weapon Environmental Modification to Aid Own Operations.

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Presentation on theme: "War and the Environment. Passive Use of Environment Collateral Effects Use of Environment as a Weapon Environmental Modification to Aid Own Operations."— Presentation transcript:

1 War and the Environment

2 Passive Use of Environment Collateral Effects Use of Environment as a Weapon Environmental Modification to Aid Own Operations or Impede Enemy Eco-Terrorism Military actions may include some or all of these components to varying degrees.

3 The Choke Point


5 Collateral Damage No Military Intent to Cause Damage Rutting by Vehicles Cratering (Bombturbation) Fire Injury to Plants and Animals –Threat to mountain gorillas from civil war in Africa –May actually be less damaging to flora and fauna than normal commerce, development and agriculture. Chemical Contamination Nuclear Accidents –Accidental release of chemicals or radiation, as opposed to chemical or nuclear warfare. Vandalism

6 Vehicle Damage, Bosnia

7 Battle Damage, Kuwait


9 Vandalism


11 Buddhas of Bamyan

12 Collateral Protection Siegfried Line Former East European Frontiers Military Reservations Political Power to Resist Development Vested Interest in Preserving Realistic Training Environment

13 Former East German Frontier

14 Vehicle Damage, Germany

15 Collateral Protection, California

16 Environmental Modification to Aid Own Operations or Impede Enemy Small-Scale: Virtually all Military Construction Large-Scale: –Aid Own Operations Deprive Enemy of Cover Improve Own Mobility –Impede Enemy Operations Impair Enemy Mobility Deprive of Supplies

17 Earthworks, Fort Ticonderoga

18 St. Lawrence River, Quebec

19 Earthworks, Quebec

20 Alcatraz, California

21 Environmental Modification to Aid Own Operations Deprive Enemy of Cover or Sanctuary –South Vietnam - Defoliation Improve Own Mobility –Tactical: River modification - Civil War –Strategic: German Autobahns U.S. Interstate System Suez and Panama Canals

22 Island Number Ten and New Madrid, 1862

23 Vicksburg Canals, 1863

24 Red River Campaign and Bailey’s Dam, 1864

25 World War I and Highways Railroads insufficient for Army’s needs Army turned to truck convoys Civilians found convoy routes featured such revolutionary innovations as: –Route Markings –Regular Maintenance –Snow Removal

26 Pershing’s Map, 1922

27 The Interstate Highway System


29 I-70, Glenwood Canyon, Colorado


31 The Suez Canal

32 Suez Canal Connections between Nile and Red Sea dug in ancient times Modern canal by Ferdinand de Lesseps 1858-1869 Easy terrain Principal winner: Britain enabled to extend military reach Red Sea organisms invading Mediterranean

33 The Suez-Panama Connection De Lesseps took on the job of building a canal across Panama Nobody else could have kept the project going as long as it did 22,000 died before project abandoned in 1893 French actually excavated about 1/3 of canal Built railroad across Panama

34 The Nicaragua Alternative

35 Continental Divide, Nicaragua

36 Volcan Momotombo

37 Nicaragua or Panama? French lobbied hard to have the U.S. take over their route in Panama An ill-timed postage stamp killed the Nicaragua route French investors in Panama bought out

38 The Panama Canal U.S. and Colombia sign treaty in 1901 to build canal Colombian Senate refuses to ratify U.S. backs separatist revolt in Panama

39 How U.S. Succeeded Disease control Life support for workers to ensure long term commitment Get a Bigger Hammer –Bigger equipment –U.S. experience with railroads

40 New Lock Construction

41 Gaillard (Culebra) Cut

42 Deepening the Canal

43 Rio Chagres

44 Dredging


46 Gatun Locks

47 Gatun Dam

48 French Trench

49 Prepared New Channel

50 The Future? Largest ships cannot use the Panama Canal despite improvements Sea Level Canal? –Panama? –Nicaragua? Environmental Impacts?

51 Corinth Canal, Greece




55 Environmental Modification to Impede Enemy Impair Enemy Mobility China 1938 - Breach Huang He Dikes Chemical Warfare Deprive of Supplies River Diversion in Sieges Scorched Earth Campaigns Shenandoah Valley - Civil War Sherman's March - Civil War Extermination of Buffalo - Indian Wars It is usually easier to mess things up instead of improve them, especially in war, so it is no surprise that environmental modification to impede the enemy is so prominent in military history.

56 Herbicide Effects, Kurdistan

57 Diversion of Huang He, 1938

58 Topography of China

59 Loess in China

60 Huang He Diversions 400 BC - Present

61 Scale of Huang He Diversions

62 Japanese Strategy 1938

63 Extent of Flooding (After Todd, 1949)

64 Military Effects of the Breach Minor losses of Japanese troops and materiel Few troops caught on the wrong side escaped Chinese gain time for withdrawal and relocation of capital Flood also protects Japanese flank Little additional fighting in Central China Japanese capture of Wuhan (Hankow) delayed by only a couple of months No central authority in much of Central China Communists gain support

65 Flood Fatalities, 1938

66 Affected Population

67 Flood Fatality Estimation Flood SeverityWarning TimeFatality Rate HighNone30 – 100 % (75%) > 1 hourX Number still at risk MediumNone3 – 35% (15%) > 1 hour<1 – 6% (3%) LowNone0 – 2 % (1%) > 1 hour<<1 % Graham, W.J., 1999, DSO-99-06, A Procedure for Estimating Loss of Life Caused by Dam Failure Assuming poor understanding of risk downstream Fatality rate in parentheses is recommended prediction value

68 Casualty Model Applied to 1938 Population of Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu flooded counties = 13.2 million (Lary, 2001) Medium severity, no warning (15%)  2 million fatalities Medium severity, > 1 hour warning (3%)  400,000 fatalities 844,000 fatalities = 6.4%

69 Visualizing the Risk

70 Use of Environment as a Weapon Deliberate Triggering of Environmental Effect to Cause Direct Damage to Enemy Forces Passive use of the environment as a combat multiplier is an ancient military tactic: waiting for suitable weather or moon phase, channeling the enemy into unfavorable terrain, and so on. That's not the sense implied here.

71 Use of Environment as a Weapon Comparatively Rare Lack of Knowledge Lack of Capability Lack of Opportunity Inefficiency

72 Use of Environment as a Weapon Deliberate Spread of Natural Plagues World War I - Italian Alps World War II - Allied "Dam Busting"

73 Eco-Terrorism Mongols in Iraq - 1259 Hitler's Scorched Earth Order - 1945 Sea Island Oil Spill - 1991 Kuwait Oil Wells – 1991 –Pure Eco-Terrorism –Most Other Examples had Other Military Functions Chemical Warfare Hypothetical Doomsday Devices

74 Eco-Terrorism Reasons For Use: –Deterrence –Intimidation –Lower Quality of Life for Enemy –Deprive Victor of Fruits of Victory (Scorched Earth)

75 Eco-Terrorism Comparatively Modern Recent Technological Capability Recent Rise of Environmental Concern

76 First View of Kuwait

77 Satellite View, March 2, 1991

78 Rawdatain Oil Field

79 Darkness at Noon

80 March 24, 1991, 11 AM

81 Turning Night into Day

82 What’s Worse than a Burning Oil Well?

83 Oil on the Beach

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