WASHINGTON — While experts warn of impending water wars, the U.S. Army confronts another worry. Water is a crucial resource for war itself, they recognize. If not carefully managed, diminishing supplies could very well obstruct their ability to sustain efforts in Iraq and elsewhere, as well as expand domestic bases to accommodate growing troops.
“You can get out there … and deploy to an area for conducting operations, but if water’s not there for drinking purposes and for cooking, showering, laundry, things like that, then you’re not going to be able to sustain the force,” said Tad Davis, the Army’s deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and occupational health, at Reuter’s recent Global Environment Summit.
Davis noted that in the past few years, eight out of ten convoys in Iraq carried water in addition to fuel. The Army has constructed six water bottling plants in Iraq to provide the resource. “It all goes back to security,” Davis said. “If we don’t have water, then we don’t have the ability to perform at those installations.”
Conflict abroad, however, is not the only concern. Increased enlistment and domestic base closures have placed pressure on the Army budget to plan for greater quantities of water. The military is launching a study to understand just how much water it will need. It also will examine resource demands exacted by rapidly encroaching suburbs.
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Inset photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Dallas Edwards