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U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Nominees Highlight the Threat from Climate Change

ADM Moran LtGen Berger_SASC Hearing_2019_04_30

Admiral Moran and Lieutenant General Berger testify before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee – April 30, 2019

By John Conger

On April 30, the nominee for Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran, and the nominee for Commandant of the Marine Corps, Lieutenant General David Berger, testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that climate change was a significant threat to Navy and Marine Corps installations.  (Watch the full video here.)

ADM Moran observed that “We are largely a waterfront service, so climate change when there’s rising waters are going to be a problem for us if we don’t address them.”  He also asserted the Navy is working plans to reinforce coastal areas.

Lt. Gen. Berger said “The two biggest challenges are the rising water levels and severe storms that roll up the coast and through our bases and stations.”  In the context of Camp Lejeune’s recovery, Lt. Gen. Berger emphasized the importance of taking climate into account in reconstruction, stating “When we recover from a storm like we are now in North Carolina, we need to look at the location of the buildings.  We need to look at the construction standards of the buildings to make sure that they’ll survive what the climate is going to throw at them.”

The exchange was highlighted in an article by Defense One, which also provides some important context on DoD’s posture with respect to the climate threat.  Of note, Defense One has been reporting increasingly frequently on the climate security nexus – on DoD challenges from climate in Africa, how China is using climate to extend its influence,  DoD’s funding needs for extreme weather recovery, the Congressional reaction to DoD’s recent report, and changes emerging in the Arctic.  Also, here’s a Defense One podcast with CCS Director John Conger and Advisory Board member RADM (ret) David Titley.)

The full transcript of the exchange with ADM Moran and Lt. Gen. Berger follows:

Sen. Reed:

“The Secretary of the Navy submitted a top ten list – this is not the top ten list you want – of Marine Corps and Navy installations that are most vulnerable to severe weather.  And do you believe that we should adopt – i.e. the Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps – better installation resiliency planning and guidance as a result of weather threats? Admiral Moran?”

ADM Moran:

Sir, there is no question that we need…  and we are developing a plan for greater resiliency, especially in areas where we have shipyards and communities that share water space, share waterfront.  Those are really important areas for us for obvious reasons.  We are largely a waterfront service, so climate change when there’s rising waters are going to be a problem for us if we don’t address them. So we are in the planning stages to look at how to reinforce those areas.”

Sen. REED:

“And General Berger?”

Lt. Gen. Berger:

“I’d agree, sir. The two biggest challenges are the rising water levels and severe storms that roll up the coast and through our bases and stations.  I think the new standards for construction, for military construction, are absolutely critical.  When we recover from a storm like we are now in North Carolina, we need to look at the location of the buildings.  We need to look at the construction standards of the buildings to make sure that they’ll survive what the climate is going to throw at them.  Absolutely, it’s an important factor for us.  The standards for construction are very helpful.”


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