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Top 10 Most Climate-Vulnerable Military Bases According to U.S. Armed Forces

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Offutt Air Force Base flooded on March 17, 2019, caused by increase in water levels of surrounding waterways due to record-setting snowfall in winter & large drop in air pressure (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. Rachelle Blake)

By John Conger

In 2017, the U.S. Congress directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a list of the installations in each military service that were most vulnerable to climate change.  They gave DoD a year to do this work, as it wasn’t simple.  The DoD would need to look across its enterprise, and determine how it would measure vulnerability and assess which risks were specifically from climate change.  At the Center for Climate and Security, we published a briefer on the factors they might consider. (more…)

General Charles Wald Joins the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board

CharlesFWaldThe Center for Climate and Security is pleased and honored to announce that General Charles F. Wald, US Air Force (Ret), has joined its distinguished Advisory Board of military and national security leaders.

General Wald is President of Jones Group Middle East (JGME). He is responsible for overseeing all of JGME’s business development and operations in the region. Prior to joining JGME, General Wald served as Vice Chairman, Federal Practice Senior Advisor, Deloitte Services, LP. He provided senior leadership in strategy and relationships with the U.S. Department of Defense as well as Deloitte’s Commercial Aerospace and Defense Clients globally. General Wald is a subject matter specialist in best commercial business practices, doctrine and strategy, military procurement and sustainment, counterterrorism, technology innovation and international energy security policy.

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The Air Force’s Most Vulnerable Bases

200th RED HORSE and 179th Airlift Wing Airmen aid in Hurricane Michael Recovery Efforts

Ohio Air National Guardmen traveled to Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael, to provide damage assessment and recovery efforts, October 17-22, 2018 (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Ashley Klase)

By John Conger

In 2017, the U.S. Congress directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a list of the installations in each military service that were most vulnerable to climate change.  They gave DoD a year to do this work, as it wasn’t simple.  The DoD would need to look across its enterprise, and determine how it would measure vulnerability and assess which risks were specifically from climate change.  At the Center for Climate and Security, we published a briefer on the factors they might consider.

In early 2019, the DoD report was submitted to Congress, but it omitted the requested prioritization and had other puzzling gaps as well.  It omitted the Marine Corps.  It left out all non-US bases.  It didn’t respond to Congressional questions about mitigation and cost.  Instead, it included a list of 79 bases that the Department determined were its most critical, and then did a rudimentary assessment of the threat from climate change without prioritization.  Congress directed them to go back and redo the work. (more…)

Thirty Days to Hurricane Season: Tyndall Air Force Base Recovery and Preparation at Risk

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Tyndall Air Force Base grounds depicting damage from Hurricane Michael. Source: John Conger, April 30, 2019

By John Conger 

Extreme weather is an important face of climate change that is showing itself more and more frequently.  Warming leads to storms with increased energy and increased precipitation, and that can lead to a lot of damage. That’s already the case. For the future, we can foresee that weather patterns will continue to change rapidly, storms will become more devastating, and that we should expect (and plan for) the unexpected.

This understanding and preparation is essential for the critical infrastructure of the United States, and the people who man and depend on that infrastructure. The last year has been particularly devastating to both civilian and military infrastructure, and there’s no way around that fact.

The Department of Defense (DoD), for example, is facing more than $8 billion in recovery costs to address extreme weather damage at Tyndall Air Force Base, Offutt Air Force Base, and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, installations that are very important for U.S. military capabilities and livelihoods. (more…)

Air Force Chief of Staff: Military Often Has to Respond to the Effects of Climate Change

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Secretary Wilson and General Goldfein discuss climate change before the Senate Armed Services Committee, April 4, 2019

Yesterday, on the heels of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on climate change and national security, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, General David L. Goldfein, and the outgoing Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Heather A. Wilson, spoke about the security implications of climate change during a posture hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In response to a question about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s previous comments on the subject, General Goldfein highlighted the connection between climate change, extreme drought and the start of the Syrian civil war (an issue we first wrote about in 2012), and stated: “what Chairman Dunford was talking about was that we have to respond militarily very often to the effects, globally, of climate change.” Secretary Wilson also spoke about the importance of climate resilience at Air Force bases, as articulated in the Air Force’s recent infrastructure investment strategy, noting “We don’t leave our bases to fight. We fight from our bases. And so their resilience is very important.” (more…)

Three Takeaways from Hurricane Michael’s Impact on Tyndall Air Force Base

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An F-22 Raptor from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., commences take off (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa)

By John Conger, Director, The Center for Climate and Security

As the Florida communities devastated by Hurricane Michael begin their long recovery, much attention has been focused on Tyndall Air Force Base and the incredible amount of damage the base took from the storm.

First and foremost, it’s important to highlight the wise decision to evacuate the base as the storm approached.  No lives were lost on Tyndall and many of its F-22 aircraft were relocated elsewhere – out of harms way.  Missions have been moved and critical functions have continued to operate.  A decision to ride out the storm could have gone much, much worse.

Second, while the damage assessment is still ongoing, it is very clear that the bill will be quite high – not only to the infrastructure of the base, but also to the very expensive F-22 aircraft that remained at the installation.  Official numbers have not been released, but it is clear that many F-22s remained at the base because they were in various states of maintenance and unable to fly.  Fortunately, initial indications from the Air Force are that damage to the aircraft is less than it could have been.  (more…)

Senior Military Leaders to Congress: Climate Change Presents Strategic Challenges in the Arctic

General OShaughnessy

General O’Shaughnessy, nominee for NORTHCOM & NORAD Commander, responds to a question on climate change before the Senate Armed Services Committee, April 17, 2018

By Heather Messera

“The damn thing melted” – Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer on the Arctic, April 19, 2018

Over just the past few days, three senior military leaders from the Air Force and the Navy have raised significant concerns about the effects of climate change on the military mission in the Arctic.

First, on Tuesday, April 17, 4-star Air Force General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding his nomination to be Commander of United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). While the full hearing is worth watching (including the comments of Admiral Davidson, the PACOM nominee), a notable exchange on climate change between Senator Blumenthal and General O’Shaughnessy occurred at the 1:27:08 minute mark.  Asked about whether or not climate change presents strategic challenges in the Arctic – part of NORTHCOMs and NORADs Area of Responsibility (AoR) – General O’Shaughnessy replied “Senator, it absolutely does.” General O’Shaughnessy then went on to detail increases in activity in a thawing Arctic, highlighting the need to consider strategic competition in the region with Russia and China.  (more…)