Monday, 2 May 2011

The British army may soon be defending the environment

Not often does the military feature in environment and climate change stories, but there have been a couple of cases in the UK recently.

In March, Defence Estates (DE), the part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) responsible for managing land and properties, announced a partnership with the Woodland Trust, a charity championing native woods and trees in the UK.

The idea is that the Woodland Trust plants lots of trees on MoD property, helping the Trust reach its target of doubling woodland cover in the UK by 2050. In turn, the new woodland will help British soldiers train more effectively for military operations and at no cost to the MoD.

The first 160 hectares, 176,000 trees, will be planted at the Defence Training Estate (DTE) range at Warcop in Cumbria.

More recently, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has reported on an article by Staff Sergeant Graham Thornton, writing in the latest Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Journal, in which he said that by cutting down on fossil fuels the British army would be a more mobile and effective fighting force. The article gave a couple of examples of the technology that could be in use before long:

• Laser charging, i.e. firing a focused laser at a solar cell array to provide power. The technology could be used for charging Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in flight or, via precise mirrors, could create a point-to-point power link with outlying infantry posts. In the case of the drones, it means they are less vulnerable through having to land to refuel, and for the infantry it means less batteries and other electrical equipment to carry around.

• Hybrid electric and diesel-powered vehicles. Apparently US car maker Millenworks and British defence technology firm QinetiQ are developing hybrid vehicles for use on the battlefield, so the hybrid tank is a real possibility.


Well it seems a little odd to talk about the armed forces being concerned for the environment. But the MoD creates 60% of the Government’s CO2 emissions and with ambitious targets to reduce the public sector’s carbon footprint, the MoD really needs to play its part. It’s always going to be some way down the MoD’s list of priorities, though, so likely to be a slow process.

© The Green IT Review

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