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Letter to the President of the United States: 58 Senior Military and National Security Leaders Denounce NSC Climate Panel

CCS_ASP Letter to the President

Letter to the President of the United States: 58 Senior Military and National Security Leaders Denounce NSC Climate Panel

Click here for a PDF of the letter.

March 5, 2019

Dear Mr. President:

We write to you as former US national security leaders to offer our support to our uniformed military, civilian national security professionals, and members of the scientific community, who across the past four Administrations have found that climate change is a threat to US national security.

Climate change is real, it is happening now, it is driven by humans, and it is accelerating. The overwhelming majority of scientists agree: less than 0.2% of peer-reviewed climate science papers dispute these facts. In this context, we are deeply concerned by reports that National Security Council officials are considering forming a committee to dispute and undermine military and intelligence judgments on the threat posed by climate change. This includes second-guessing the scientific sources used to assess the threat, such as the rigorously peer-reviewed National Climate Assessment, and applying that to national security policy.  Imposing a political test on reports issued by the science agencies, and forcing a blind spot onto the national security assessments that depend on them, will erode our national security.

It is dangerous to have national security analysis conform to politics. Our officials’ job is to ensure that we are prepared for current threats and future contingencies. We cannot do that if the scientific studies that inform our threat assessments are undermined. Our national security community will not remain the best in the world if it cannot make decisions based on the best available evidence.

When extreme weather hits the United States, it degrades the fighting force. Just last year, Hurricane Florence caused $3.6 billion in damages to Camp Lejeune, home of the Marines’ expeditionary units on the East Coast. You called Florence “One of the biggest to ever hit our country.” Stronger storms and storm surges have long featured in predictions about a changing climate. Around the world, climate change is a “threat multiplier” – making other security threats worse. Its effects are even used by our adversaries as a weapon of war; ISIS used water shortages in Iraq, in part driven by a changing climate, to cement their hold on the population during their reign of terror from 2014 to 2017.

We support the science-driven patriots in our national security community who have rightly seen addressing climate change as a threat reduction issue, not a political one, since 1989. We support the bipartisan finding of the US Congress, which you signed into law on December 2017, stating that “climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States.”  We urge you to trust and heed the analysis of your own national security agencies and the science agencies on which their assessments depend, including the 21 senior defense officials that have identified climate change as a security threat during your Administration. A committee designed to undermine the many years of work they have done will weaken our ability to respond to real threats, putting American lives at risk.

Our climate will continue to change, and the threats will continue to grow. We spent our careers pledged to protect the United States from all threats, including this one. Let’s drop the politics, and allow our national security and science agencies to do their jobs.


Hon. John Kerry
Former Secretary of State

Hon. Chuck Hagel
Former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Ray Mabus
Former Secretary of the Navy

Vice Admiral Richard Truly, USN (Ret)
Former Administrator of NASA

General Gordon R. Sullivan, US Army (Ret)
Former Chief of Staff of the US Army

Admiral Paul Zukunft, USCG (Ret)
Former Commandant of the Coast Guard

Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, USN (Ret)
Former Commander, US Pacific Command

General Stanley McChrystal, USA (Ret)
Former Commander, US and International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan

Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret)
Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe

Lieutenant General Donald Kerrick, USA (Ret)
Former Deputy National Security Advisor to the President of the United States

Nancy Soderberg
Former Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Tom Hicks
Former Acting Under Secretary of the Navy and Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy for Management

Hon. Sharon Burke
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy

Hon. John Conger
Former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment

Hon. David Goldwyn
Former Assistant Secretary of Energy and Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs

Eric Rosenbach
Former Chief of Staff, Department of Defense, and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Security

Hon. Miranda AA Ballentine
Former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Installations, Environment, and Energy)

Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN (Ret)
Former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment

Leon Fuerth
Former National Security Adviser to the Vice President of the United States

Hon. Alice Hill
Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Resilience Policy, National Security Council

Dr. Geoffrey Kemp
Former Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Major General Randy Manner, USA (Ret)
Former Acting Vice Chief, National Guard Bureau

General Paul Kern, USA (Ret.)
Former Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command

General Ron Keys, USAF (Ret)
Former Commander, Air Combat Command

Lieutenant General John Castellaw, USMC (Ret)
Former Chief of Staff, US Central Command

Vice Admiral Philip Cullom, USN (Ret)
Former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Readiness and Logistics

Lieutenant General Kenneth E. Eickmann, USAF (Ret)
Former Commander, Aeronautical Systems Center, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command

Lieutenant General Arlen D. Jameson, USAF (Ret)
Former Deputy Commander, US Strategic Command

Vice Admiral Robert C. Parker, USCG (Ret)
Commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area

Lieutenant General Norm Seip, USAF (Ret)
Former Commander, 12th Air Force

Hon. Sherri Goodman
Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environmental Security)

Hon. Richard Morningstar
Former Ambassador to the European Union

Greg Treverton
Former Chair, National Intelligence Council

Major General Richard T. Devereaux, USAF (Ret)
Former Director, Operational Planning, Policy and Strategy, Headquarters U.S. Air Force

Major General Jerry Harrison, USA (Ret)
Former Chief, Office of Legislative Liaison, Army Staff

Rear Admiral Sinclair M. Harris, USN (Ret)
Former Commander, United States Fourth Fleet

Rear Admiral Leendert R. Hering USN (Ret)
Former Commander, Navy Region Southwest

Rear Admiral Michael G. Mathis, USN (Ret)
Chief Engineer to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition)

Rear Admiral Fernandez L. Ponds, USN (Ret)
Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3

Major General Jeff Phillips, USA (Ret)
Executive Director, Reserve Officers Association

Rear Admiral Kevin Slates, USN (Ret)
Former Director of Energy and Environmental Readiness Division, U.S. Navy

Rear Admiral Michael Smith, USN (Ret)
Former Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3

Rear Admiral David W. Titley, USN (Ret)
Former Oceanographer & Navigator, US Navy

Rear Admiral Jonathan White, USN (Ret)
Former Oceanographer & Navigator, US Navy

Joe Bryan
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy)

Captain James C. Goudreau, SC, USN (Ret)
Former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy)

Brigadier General John Adams, USA (Ret)
Former Deputy United States Military Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Military Committee

Brigadier General Steven Anderson, USA (Ret)
Former Director, Operations and Logistics Readiness, Headquarters, Department of the Army

Brigadier General Joseph R. Barnes, USA (Ret)
Former Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Army

Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, USA (Ret)
Former Commander, Special Operations Command-Africa

Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret)
Former Commanding General Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island

Brigadier General Robert Felderman, USA (Ret)
Former Deputy Director of Plans, Policy and Strategy, United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command

Brigadier General Gerald E. Galloway, USA (Ret)
Former Dean of the Academic Board, US Military Academy, West Point

Brigadier General Carlos Martinez, USAF (Ret)
Former Mobilization Assistant, Chief of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer
Office of the Secretary of the Air Force,

Brigadier General Stephen Xenakis, USA (Ret)
Former Commanding General, Southeast Regional Medical Command

Joan VanDervort
Former Deputy Director, Ranges, Sea, and Airspace, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Readiness)

Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, USA (Ret)
Former Chief of Staff to the US Secretary of State

Commander David Slayton, USN (Ret)
Executive Director, the Arctic Security Initiative, the Hoover Institution

Click here for a PDF of the letter.