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Puerto Rico and Climate Security Planning


U.S. Navy conducts search for people in distress after Hurricane Maria (U.S. Navy photo by Liam Kennedy)

Guest post by Chad Briggs, Strategy Director, GlobalInt LLC

News of the unfolding humanitarian disaster in the US territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands following Hurricane Maria have been disquieting, to say the least. Critics have accused the Trump administration of slow response to the hurricane impacts, while defenders of the White House claim that such responses take time, and that things are going as well as could be hoped. Coupled with the damage to Florida and Texas following Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, the US and its Caribbean neighbors have experienced the most intense month of hurricane activity in history.

Although conditions are far from stable and it is too early to draw full conclusions from current events, two important points should be made in reference to the September 2017 hurricanes. First, despite the complicated nature of disaster response and the difficulties in aiding an island with millions of people, planning techniques exist that allow effective mitigation and response- it is a matter of political will as to how well they are employed. A related point is that such disasters may well become more severe due to climate change, and it is incumbent upon the US government and its allies to plan for such events and their impacts well in advance. (more…)

The Civilian Climate Corps: Implications for Security in the 21st Century

Jackson Lake and the Tetons from the small island out from CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Camp No. 2, Grand Teton National Park. Ray Ickes and Ned Munn on the rock in foreground, 1933 (Public Domain)

By Katelin Wright

An unexpected opportunity for building domestic climate security awaits in the form of an FDR-reminiscent Civilian Conservation Corps geared toward combating climate change. Coined the “Civilian Climate Corps,” President Biden first introduced the initiative on January 27, 2021, under Executive Order 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” In the Executive Order, the president tasked the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture to create a Civilian Climate Corps “to mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers and maximize the creation of accessible training opportunities and good jobs.”  


New Book: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change

Recovery Efforts Continue In Hurricane-Ravaged Florida Panhandle

Debris litters Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael on October 17, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. Many U.S. military bases are in locations vulnerable to storm damage and sea-level rise.

Tomorrow, November 12, Professor Michael T. Klare’s book “All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change” will be published. In advance of that publication, Professor Klare was interviewed by Rolling Stone to discuss it. Here are a couple excerpts:

The idea of ‘All Hell Breaking Loose,’ in the title of your book, what does that mean for the military?

They see their job as defending this country from foreign threats and that is what they are trained to do. ‘All Hell Breaking Loose’ is a condition they fear in which they will be unable to conduct that mission, to do their job, because they will be so caught up in protecting this country against climate change threats or addressing its impacts on other countries around the world that are collapsing because of the effects.


2017 Hurricanes: Military Increasingly Getting Its Feet Wet

Loading Water Navy (Puerto Rico)

Sailors load water near San Juan, Puerto Rico, as humanitarian relief following Hurricane Maria. Navy photo, Petty Officer 3rd Class Danny Ray Nunez Jr.

By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, United States Navy (Retired), Senior Research Fellow

Admiral Keating, Commander of U.S. Northern Command from 2004 to 2007, remarked that “The energy Katrina released was the equivalent of 1,000 Hiroshima explosions.” In responding to the aftermath of the hurricane, U.S. Northern Command units – in conjunction with the National Guard – providing tens of thousands of military personnel, search and rescue resources, and humanitarian supplies.

Though the combined destructive energy and impact of the 2017 Hurricane triumvirate, Harvey, Irma and Maria, have yet to be conclusively framed and assessed, it’s worthwhile even now to look at some of the ways that the military is increasingly being drawn into the kinds of battles that can’t be won with weaponry. Such conversations are especially relevant since the military (particularly, Combatant Commands, their components, and National Guard units) is increasingly being called upon to significantly augment civil emergency agencies after big storms events. (more…)

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