US military civil engineering books contain “substantially inaccurate” information, an advocacy group has warned.
In its report to the US Senate Armed Services Committee, the Association of Civil Engineers (ACEE) said that the military has been using the civil engineering curriculum to “deploy a wide range of military forces around the world”.
“The military’s textbook uses ‘civil engineering’ as a synonym for ‘civil defence’,” said US Army Lieutenant Colonel John Roush, a former US Air Force and Navy engineer.
“It uses a misleading description of the basic principles of civil engineering to make the military seem like a ‘civil defense’ organisation,” he said.ACEE said that, in addition to using “simplified terms, such as ‘aircraft construction’, ‘construction’, ‘civil work’, ‘disaster management’, ‘engineering’ and ‘civil service’, the military is also using terms such as construction, construction management, and construction planning, to make it appear as though it is a civil engineering school.”
In fact, the military’s civilian civil engineering course has a “lack of any real understanding of the concepts and principles of Civil Engineering and civil engineering in general”, the group said.
“Civil engineers are not military engineers, but the military uses them for military purposes, including the training of its officers and staff,” it added.ACCEE’s report has prompted Senator John McCain to ask the US Air Forces’ chief of staff, General David Goldfein, for a response to its findings.ACMEE’s findings are based on a review of the military manual and curriculum that are being used in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It also includes comments from an analysis of the books of US civil engineers.
In Afghanistan, ACMEE said the military used “substantial, but not conclusive, evidence” to argue that the “civil engineering curriculum used in schools was used to train military personnel” and “to identify the potential for military operations”.
In Iraq, ACCEE said “military instructors were given training on the concepts of civil, emergency, emergency management, emergency response, disaster management and civil engineer”.
“This training was also used to identify the capabilities of military personnel and to create the impression that the training was designed to prepare military personnel for military service,” the group added.
“The training was not based on training in civil engineering but on military engineering.”
In both Afghanistan and in Iraq, the US has been fighting a conflict in which the military relies heavily on civilian civil engineers, who are required to provide civil engineering services to government buildings.
In addition, the group found that the US government’s civil engineers have been targeted by the Taliban, which “has used civilian civil workers as human shields, forced them to perform hazardous tasks and, in some cases, killed or injured them”.ACMEES report also found that “the US military was not only using civil engineers for the purpose of training but also to identify potential future military operations, which may involve the use of civilian civil contractors”.
The group said that civilian contractors were not required to be trained in civil emergency response and emergency management and that contractors were given “no training in how to respond to an emergency”.
In addition to its report, the ACCE group has urged the US Army to review its use of civil engineers and other civil engineering professionals.
“We are concerned about the role of civil servants in the military and the consequences that will have for civil engineering education,” it said.
In response, the Army said it was reviewing its use policy and was in the process of updating its manual.