Study 2: DoD versus the EPA
The Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) located on Cape Cod was one of the most widely used military sights during World War I and World War II. Today it is home to an Air National Guard Fighter Wing. The fighter wing and Army National Guard units throughout the New England Area use it to train and maintain force readiness. It is also the number two environmental Super Fund Site in the United States, based on dollars spent. (Roblien, 1992). In the late 1970s, the citizens of the three towns adjacent to the reservation, Bourne, Falmouth, and Mashpee, began to question the extent of the pollution caused by military training over the years. It was soon discovered that the reservation was the origin of over 25 hazardous underground waste plumes emanating from the base. These plumes have been moving outward and polluting the groundwater on the Cape for decades. The citizens of Cape Cod have suffered from temporary water shortages since the 1960s and since the 1980s private and public wells have been closed due to pollution.
In the beginning, the neighboring population supported the military, but wanted answers about the pollution and how to treat it. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the Army, Air Force, and National Guard took the position that the community did not need to be involved in the decision-making process with regards to cleanup. The public affairs community suggested from the beginning that this might turn into a major problem and that the public should be included in the decision making process.
Throughout the years, leadership consistently denied the advice of the PAOs and took a closed-door approach, only giving the public what the military wanted to release. As a result of multiple leadership blunders, contradicting what the PA officers on the ground were advising, the situation became critical in the mid 1990s. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has since stepped in along with Senators Kennedy and Kerry and virtually halted all training at MMR. The EPA has given great decision-making power over to citizens’ environmental groups and the military is spending more money of MMR environmental related than ever. This situation is the first time in the country’s history that the EPA has stopped military training. At the highest levels in the Department of Defense, this entire fiasco is credited to a series of poor management decisions and misuses of PA assets.
these two examples, the goal of this research is to improve the role of
public affairs in military operations by persuading military leaders to
change their perceptions of public affairs. Specifically, this
project proposes a strategic long term information campaign about the role
of PA to be tailored to all military services.