NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

For the Birds

May 16, 2003

Environmental rules have so hamstrung the U.S. Army, they now affect 84 percent of the training land at Fort Hood, Texas. And on 77 percent of that land, training practices are actually impacted because of the laws.

So far, the Army has been able to work around the environmental restrictions, but that could change if another endangered species is discovered on the base.

  • Sixty-eight different environmental laws now affect Fort Hood.
  • The Army has told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Readiness that 64 percent of Fort Hood's training area is under rules restricting digging, which results in soldiers not actually digging fighting holes or equipment emplacements during basic and intermediate training.

Also, large sectors of the base are preserved for birds.

  • Protections for the golden cheeked warbler and the black capped vireo restricts training on over 66,000 acres (33 percent) of training land.
  • These restrictions include no digging, no tree or brush cutting and no 'habitat destruction' throughout the year on the entire core and non-core area.
  • From March through August, vehicle and dismounted maneuver is restricted to established trails and halts in restricted areas are limited to two hours in designated endangered species 'core areas' -- 46,620 acres of 66,000 acres are designated as 'core areas.'

When soldiers cannot replicate combat because of environmental rules, military readiness suffers, says the Department of Defense. The defense of our nation is an imperative; other national goals cannot be achieved without it.

Source: Joseph A. D'Agostino, "Green Laws Threaten to Surround Fort Hood," Human Events, May 5, 2003.

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