Environmental Services


The military, like most organisations, must reduce its impact on the environment. The impact of military activities on the natural environment is inherently destructive, therefore making the role of the environment in defence complex. The South African Department of Defence (SA DOD) is increasingly bound by international and national legislation and regulations to protect and conserve the natural resources on defence-controlled properties, and to act in an environmentally responsible manner.

The DOD is not exempted from environmental legislative provisions and the emphasis for compliance has shifted from the organisation to those individuals in control of installations, operations and activities, which may detrimentally affect the environment. The responsibility for compliance and performance is therefore largely placed on those personnel in control of military installations, operations and activities. Non-compliance to legislative provisions may therefore result in fines and the possibility of prison sentences on such military personnel.

Military view of the environment

Sound environmental management reduces this impact and must therefore be an integral part of the DOD’s overall management system. It cuts across all aspects of defence and must be adopted in the planning process to accomplish environmental and other goals as well as cut costs. The DOD has adopted a greener approach for other reasons as well. Sustainable environmental management of training areas will ensure that the quality of land resources is maintained for realistic training in future. Incorporating environmental practices into military procedures and operations enhances public relations and has financial benefits such as reducing energy costs and clean-up, disposal or litigation costs.

The land and fixed asset portfolio of the DOD stem from its core functions and activities. The Defence Review (1998) advocates a primarily defensive posture with additional tasks such as regional security co-operation and peace support operations being taken on. Due to the increasing pressure on land within the Republic of South Africa (RSA) as well as the restitution of land rights, the DOD must retain its current footprint on the existing land portfolio.

Environmental Services in the SA military is a non-core Logistics function integrated into the Facilities Management function in support of the military mission and is primarily concerned with managing the environmental impacts of military activities on the environment (whether a natural or urban environment). Furthermore, it aims to ensure the environmental sustainable management of military activities and facilities by following an advanced and comprehensive approach of Military Integrated Environmental Management (MIEM) encapsulated by the phrase GREEN SOLDIERING. This function is responsible for ensuring the sustainability of military installations and supports the department’s core functions that relate to ‘providing military forces’ and ‘employing military forces’ through the implementation and execution of Military Integrated Environmental Management (MIEM).

Environmentalist view of the military

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