Military, exemptions, environmental policy, precautionary principle, international relations, global warming, incrementalism


International military operations around the world are major actors on the world stage of global pollution. The United States military remains subject to federal, state, and local environmental laws. However, many exemptions exist to assist the military despite its status as a global polluter. Many environmental policies have incrementally developed over the last one-hundred years largely as a reaction to the most extreme circumstances. Scientific knowledge continues to increase our awareness of the lasting impacts of policy decisions relating to the environment, giving rise to the precautionary principle, that notion that we should do no lasting harm, in our care for the environment. Pushing against that principle is the chaos of international relations which drives a compelling need for defense preparedness. Growing evidence suggests that military policy makers are understanding the link between defense preparedness and environmental degradation, giving rise to the integration of new military and environmental policies. Understanding the legitimate needs of the military and the risks to the environment past, present, and future are considerations of this paper. Recommendations for further study and how to assist the United States in the role of being a good global citizen.