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How the U.S. Military’s Not Waiting to Find Out if Climate Change is an Existential Risk

Soldiers_assist_residents_displaced_by_Hurricane_Sandy_in_Hoboken,_N.J.In case you missed it, Keith Johnson with Foreign Policy recently published an article that strikes at the heart of where the United States is in assessing and preparing for the security risks of climate change. While much of the discussion on this topic is about carefully parsing lines of causality, and waiting for certainty before raising concerns about these connections, a quote from Marc Levy in the article makes the case that this is a luxury:

“I think we’re woefully far behind…Sometimes people get accused of being overly alarmist…I think the warnings being given about the security threats from climate change are overly timid.”

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Admiral Sam J. Locklear Joins the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board

UntitledThe Center for Climate and Security is honored to welcome Admiral Sam J. Locklear, United States Navy (Retired), to its distinguished Advisory Board of senior military, national security and foreign policy experts. Admiral Locklear recently retired from the US Navy after serving with distinction for over 39 years, including 15 years of service as a Flag Officer. During his significant tenure as a four star, Admiral Locklear lead at the highest levels serving as Commander U.S. Pacific Command, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command.

As Commander U.S. Pacific Command, the United States’ oldest and largest geographic unified combatant command, he commanded all U.S. military forces operating across more than half the globe. He accurately assessed the rapidly changing geopolitical environment of the Indo-Asia-Pacific, the most militarized area of the world, made significant advancements in how U.S. forces are postured for crisis or contingency, and was instrumental in addressing the growing global cyber challenges in the region. A key architect of America’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, Admiral Locklear provided the vision, strategic framework, and detailed planning that began the rebalance of U.S. military influence to the Asia-Pacific. He skillfully managed the US military relationships with our five Pacific treaty allies, numerous key security partners, and emerging multilateral security forums. Additionally, he maintained a pragmatic but lasting relationship with China’s military and made significant progress in developing a deeper strategic security relationship with India. (more…)

Photos and Videos: The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change

Ellen Laipson, Sherri Goodman, Samuel Locklear, Eric Schwartz - "Schuyler Null/Wilson Center."

Ellen Laipson, Hon. Sherri Goodman, Admiral (ret) Samuel Locklear III, Eric Schwartz – “Schuyler Null/Wilson Center.”

On November 17, the Center for Climate and Security released its new report, “The U.S. Asia- Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change,” in partnership with the Center for New American Security, the University of Oxford and the Carnegie Mellon University Civil and Environmental Engineering Program.

The release was accompanied by a thought-provoking panel discussion between senior leaders in the national security, defense and diplomatic communities, including Admiral Samuel Locklear III, USN (Ret.), Former Commander of U.S. Pacific Command; Sherri Goodman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership; Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environmental Security); Eric Schwartz, Dean, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration; and Ellen Laipson, Distinguished Fellow and President Emeritus, Henry L. Stimson Center; Former Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council; (more…)

The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change: Report Launch & Discussion

Members_of_the_Papua_New_Guinea_Defense_Force_prepare_to_embark_aboard_the_Royal_Australian_Navy_landing_ship_heavy_HMAS_Tobruk_(L50)Please RSVP to join us on November 17, 2015 for the launch of our new report, The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change, and a conversation between leaders from the defense, diplomacy and intelligence worlds.

The United States is in the early stages of what it characterizes as an “Asia-Pacific rebalance”. Essentially, this means that on a very broad strategic scale, the United States intends to reorient its foreign policy and national security posture to the Asia-Pacific region, which is host to burgeoning populations, growing economies, strategic choke-points like the South China Sea, and a number of rising powers. But the region is also one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with a growing coastal population, rising seas, numerous critical waterways fed by glaciers, threatened island states, increased drying, and projections of severe water insecurity in the near future.

In this context, the effects of climate change are likely to both shape, and be shaped by, the U.S. role in the Asia-Pacific. (more…)

Climate Security and the U.S. Pacific Command Posture: Strategic Long-term Challenges

Marines gather to listen to Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, speak aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

Marines gather to listen to Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, speak aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

On Thursday April 16, 2015, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea. Witnesses included Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III, USN Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. Admiral Locklear has been particularly concerned about the threat of climate change to the region, in the context of U.S. strategic interests (see here, here, here and here). Admiral Locklear’s written testimony for Thursday’s hearing reiterated those concerns. Below are excepts from Admiral Locklear’s testimony. The full testimony is available here, and a transcript of the hearing is available here. (more…)

Weekly Wisdom: Admiral Locklear On the One Thing He Tells His Commanders

PACOM commander visits MCAS MiramarAt the Atlantic Council in March, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, head of U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) – in charge of all U.S. forces in the Pacific region – revealed some practical wisdom he communicates to those that work for him. He stated:

… if there’s one thing I tell everybody that comes to work for me – every commander – I [say] ‘While you’re here, you may not have a conflict with another military, but you will have a natural disaster that you have to either assist in, or be prepared to manage the consequences on the other side. And that has been true every year.

In the context of typhoon Neogori, which recently hit Okinawa, Japan (also host to the U.S. Kadena Air Base), and the likelihood of an increase in extreme weather disasters in the region over time (due to population and climate change dynamics), these words are likely to remain relevant for some time to come.

The Hill: “The U.S. military leads on climate change”

Underway supply replenishmentOn the heels of the Quadrennial Defense Review release, the Hill’s Congress blog has published a great piece by our distinguished Advisory Board members Lt. Gen John Castellaw, USMC (Ret) and Rear Adm. David Titley, USN (Ret), titled “The U.S. military leads on climate change.” In it, they describe the leadership of the U.S. military on addressing climate change, and articulate the simple fact that climate change is a question of national security, and not one that should be subject to partisan bickering. Read the full article here.