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By Ladeene Freimuth, Special Guest Contributor
As we begin a new decade and move further into the 21st century, increasing U.S. leadership and security in the Arctic are vital, in light of the growing threats America faces there. The U.S. cannot lose sight of important geostrategic changes occurring vis-a-vis the Arctic, due to the “threat multiplier” effects of climate change, which are exacerbating the security challenges for the U.S. there and elsewhere around the globe.
A recent hearing on the “Expanding Opportunities, Challenges, and Threats in the Arctic” in the Security Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation sought to highlight this need for the U.S. to reassert its leadership in the Arctic by examining climate change and national security challenges and opportunities in the region, with an emphasis on the U.S. Coast Guard’s strategic role. Climate impacts are “reshaping the strategic operating environment for the Coast Guard in the Arctic, and around the world,” as the Honorable Sherri Goodman, Senior Strategist for the Center for Climate and Security, testified before the Subcommittee. In 2018, former Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, stated that the U.S. needs to “up its game” in the Arctic, because the U.S. is inadequately prepared for the changing threat environment there. (more…)
From April to June of this year, the U.S. military has issued not one, but three strategy documents that highlight climate change risks to the U.S. military mission. These include:
June 6: Department of Defense Arctic Strategy, U.S. Department of Defense
June 1: The Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy Report: Preparedness, Partnerships and Promoting a Networked Region, U.S. Department of Defense
April 22: United States Coast Guard: Arctic Strategic Outlook, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard
The Center for Climate and Security is pleased and honored to announce that Admiral Paul Zukunft, United States Coast Guard (Retired), has joined its distinguished Advisory Board of military and national security leaders.
Admiral Zukunft served as the 25th Commandant of the Coast Guard from 2014 until 2018. During his tenure as Commandant, the Coast Guard attained its highest appropriation in history to modernize its fleet and upgrade aging infrastructure while concurrently attaining four clean financial audit opinions –
the only Armed Service to do so. His 41 years of active duty service and 8 commands to include three Coast Guard cutters spanned the globe and the Service has emerged as the gold standard for promoting maritime safety and security. In 2010, he served as the Federal On-Scene Coordinator during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill where he directed over 47,000 first responders, a flotilla of more than 6,700 vessels and over 120 aircraft. (more…)
By John Conger
When it comes to climate change, there are some issues (sea level rise, Arctic ice melt) which it doesn’t take a science degree to get one’s head around. Extreme weather, on the other hand, is highly complex and there isn’t always a simple way to characterize changes in a way that doesn’t spur debate.
Nonetheless, it is widely acknowledged by scientists, based on decades of rainfall data, that climate change is significantly increasing the frequency of weather events that deliver extreme rainfall, such as hurricane Florence. And what’s entirely beyond debate is that in addition to the climate risks civilian populations and infrastructure faces in the region, the Department of Defense has multiple important installations in areas that are vulnerable to extreme rainfall events, and Hurricane Florence just slammed into several of them. (more…)
There will be two hearings in the U.S. Congress this week that are directly relevant to the intersection of climate change and security. Below is the basic information for both hearings taken from the websites of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, respectively. Stay tuned for more coverage of these hearings over the next few days. (more…)
Former U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, retired Admiral Robert Papp Jr., has just been appointed as the U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic Region. Given the rapid physical and political changes in the Arctic, this is an important new position.
Recently, Admiral Papp discussed dealing with climate change in what he called “the world of consequence management.” His full quote:
I am not a scientist. I can read what scientists say, but I’m in the world of consequence management. My first turn in Alaska was 39 years ago, and during the summertime we had to break ice to get up to the Bering Strait and to get to Kotzebue. Thirty-five years later, going up there as commandant, we flew into Kotzebue at the same time of year; I could not see ice anywhere. So it is clear to me there are changes happening, but I have to deal with the consequences of that.
The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), a highly-respected Defense Industry association, produces a regular publication called National Defense Magazine. The magazine is a go-to resource for anyone who wishes to take the temperature of the national security establishment in the United States. (more…)