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July 2023 Update: Military Responses to Climate Hazards (MiRCH) Tracker

By Tom Ellison and Erin Sikorsky

In July 2023, the Military Responses to Climate Hazards (MiRCH) tracker identified 16 countries in which militaries were deployed in response to climate hazards, often multiple times to different regions and types of hazard. The tracker identified 31 deployments total. Additionally, extreme weather events interrupted military activities and destroyed military infrastructure this month, underscoring the multiple ways in which these hazards strain defense and security capabilities.

For example, the Indian military deployed repeatedly across different regions in July, primarily in response to extreme precipitation and flooding. Many Indian states received significantly more rain than usual during the month (as high as 90 percent more in some cases), and the country’s Army and Air Force rescued thousands of people from rising waters. 

Meanwhile, in late July Typhoon Doksuri hit the Philippines, China, and Taiwan. In the Philippines, Coast Guard and Army personnel responded to extreme rain and winds in the north of the country, which caused the death of more than 50 people and the loss of four Coast Guard personnel engaged in rescue operations. The typhoon also intersected with other security dynamics. For example, preparations for the typhoon overlapped with a heightened alert for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s State of the Nation address and Philippine troops engaging in a firefight with rebels during relief operations. In China, People’s Liberation Army troops and armed police deployed in Beijing and Fujian Province to provide relief and evacuation assistance during Doksuri, which displaced 400,000 people. Based on previous Chinese responses to climate-linked hazards, it’s likely the number of military deployments is higher than captured in this tracker but data here is limited by English language research and open source access. 

In the Mediterranean basin, militaries in Greece, Spain, Tunisia, and Algeria tackled heatwave-driven wildfires. The Greek military supported the evacuation of thousands of tourists and locals across the country, and Egyptian, Israeli and Turkish wildfire assistance included some military assets, personnel and/or units. In addition, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (CPM) was activated in response to the Greek fires, resulting in the deployment of a range of equipment and personnel from EU members. Some contributions to the EU CPM and associated program RescEU are managed by donor country militaries, such as the deployment of a CanadaAir water bomber from the Croatian Air Force. The United States military also provided support,  deploying Blackhawk helicopters to assist in firefighting north of Athens. Wildfires and storms also interrupted military training and directly harmed military personnel and equipment in multiple countries. Ten soldiers were killed by wildfires in Algeria, while an ammunition depot exploded due to fire on a military base in Central Greece. In the United States, severe storms in Oklahoma damaged training aircraft at Vance Air Force Base, delaying undergraduate pilot training by two weeks. In Taiwan, Doksuri curtailed major Taiwanese military drills aimed at preparing for and deterring potential conflict with China. 

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