ST. LOUIS – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned Monday that procedures designed to protect the environment can sometimes jeopardize U.S. troops and should be balanced against military needs.
"When those concerns are not balanced, the consequence can be unfortunate, such as when troops deployed to Iraq," he said in remarks prepared for delivery at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation.
When some troops trained for service in Iraq at the National Training Center (search) at Fort Irwin, Calif., Rumsfeld said, they were taught to roll up the bottom of their tents to stay out of the way of desert tortoises.
"In Iraq, however, light spread out at the base of the tents and made troops more visible and possibly more vulnerable to insurgents," he said.
The military is rarely on the same side as environmentalists in political battles. Many of the Defense Department's training ranges are in wilderness areas. Near growing cities, residents complain about the noise from military bases even as development expands toward base perimeters.
Rumsfeld also mentioned several projects where the military and conservationists worked together. He pointed to the resurgence of the red-cockaded woodpecker (search), an endangered species, on U.S. military bases in the southeastern United States.