The relationship between armed forces and the environment has been given greater attention in recent times. This paper seeks to develop a rationale for a positive relationship between the military and the environment. It seeks to make an holistic interpretation of military corporate goals such as 'security' of the nation and protecting the 'people' and national 'interests'. In its examination of the environmental dimensions to these goals the paper highlights the understanding that the military's traditional contribution to society has been overly narrow, and that there is a pressing need to redefine the role of the military in the post cold war era. The paper will draw on Australian examples to illustrate its examination, and will conclude with an example of one way in which Australia's military can make a positive contribution to sustainable development. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.