Earlier this week, we briefly highlighted comments by Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), in the wake of the severe flooding that gripped Jakarta in January. As Admiral Locklear mentions, PACOM’s Area of Responsibility, or AOR, covers an incredibly large and diverse Asia-Pacific region, which includes “nine of the world’s ten largest ports,” “the world’s smallest republics” and “the most populous nations in the world,” and over half of the global population. Though you should read the full statement to get a more comprehensive picture of what the region looks like through a security lens, and how the United States is structuring its engagement in the region, we thought we would include excerpts below related to the impact of climate change on the “strategic complexity” of the Asia-Pacific security environment. It is clear that the U.S. is moving forward with an “Asia-Pacific Rebalance,” (previously referred to by some as the “Pacific Pivot,”) and it is heartening to know that U.S. military leaders in the region are responsibly addressing the security dynamics of a changing climate.
All these aspects, when you take them together, result in a unique strategic complexity.
And this complexity is magnified by a wide, diverse group of challenges that can, if not managed properly, significantly stress the security environment.
I believe it is important to highlight up front just a few examples of what I mean by events that will stress our security environment in the future:
Climate change – where increasingly severe weather patterns and rising sea levels will threaten our peoples and could even threaten the loss of entire nations.
We need sustainable systems that provide fresh water and a dependable food supply…
…While resilience in the security environment is traditionally understood as the ability to recover from a crisis, using the term in the context of national security expands its meaning to include crisis prevention.
With large populations vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters, both our nations have a significant interest in improving our ability to quickly respond and mitigate the ongoing risk these threats bring.
We learned how local communities prepare themselves for the inevitable disruptions are critical to the region’s efforts to maintain peace, security and prosperity. This means working on disaster response alone is no longer the answer for the types of scenarios that we face.
Disaster risk reduction through mitigation, planning, and recovery that starts at the community level is required if we are to create more resilient societies.