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UPDATE: Chronology of U.S. Military Statements and Actions on Climate Change and Security: 2017-2019

The_Pentagon

Since January 2017, twenty-one senior officials at the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) have publicly raised concerns about, and recommended actions to address, the security implications of climate change, both due to its effect on military infrastructure, readiness and operations, and its broader geostrategic implications for the United States.

This includes then-Secretary of Defense, James Mattis; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul J. Selva; Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer; Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment (IE&E), Lucian L. Niemeyer; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy, and the Environment, Phyllis L. Bayer; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy, John Henderson; Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters; Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran; Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen Wilson; Army Vice Chief of Staff, General James McConville; AFRICOM Commander General Thomas D. Waldhauser; Air Force Director of Civil Engineers, Major General Timothy Green; NORTHCOM/ NORAD Commander, General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy; Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment, Alex Beehler; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, General Robert McMahon; General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps; and most recently, Admiral Philip Davidson, INDOPACOM Commander. The DoD also produced a survey report on the matter in January 2018, and a report to Congress on climate change threats to its critical military infrastructure and Geographic Combatant Commands in January 2019.

Below is a chronological list of written and verbal statements by these defense officials, as well as links to DoD reports and other government documents covering the climate-military nexus, that have been released during this Administration thus far. Each entry includes a link to its source, which includes more information and context. (more…)

The Climate and Security Podcast: Episode 7 with Joan VanDervort

joanvandervort_climateandsecuritypodcastWelcome back to The Climate and Security Podcast!

In this episode Joan VanDervort, Member of the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board and former Deputy Director for Ranges, Sea and Airspace in the U.S. Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Readiness), talks about how climate change impacts military training and readiness. Joan pulls from her extensive career in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to explain how training is the cornerstone of readiness.  Climate factors, like intense rainfall impacts on infrastructure and increased heat causing trainee and soldier hospitalizations, pose serious risks to training and ultimately to the ability to successfully carry out military missions. Joan also discuss how the DoD tracks the migration of diseases as well as the health of military personal going into combat. Tune into this episode for insights into military readiness that can only come from decades of experience as a civil servant.

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New Pentagon Report: “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue”

dod climate report_01_2019By John Conger

In the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Congress asked the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide a report on “vulnerabilities to military installations and combatant commander requirements resulting from climate change over the next 20 years.”  That report was delivered to Congress yesterday, prosaically-titled Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense.

The first sentence in the “background” section of the study is worth noting. It reaffirms that the DoD continues to take climate change seriously, as it has across four administrations, both Republican and Democrat. The sentence reads: “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations.” (more…)

A Statement About Secretary Mattis’ Departure and Climate Change

James_Mattis_Official_SECDEF_PhotoYesterday, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced that he would be stepping down from his position at the end of February 2019. Given his leadership on climate change within the Department of Defense, and his commitment to anticipating, analyzing and addressing the myriad threats the United States faces in this complex age, the Center for Climate and Security, an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks, is issuing the following statement:

Secretary Mattis has been an excellent Secretary of Defense during a tumultuous time. That excellence has included acknowledging and taking actions to address the very real risks climate change poses to the security of the United States, including to its armed forces, its allies and its interests abroad. His successor will need to also acknowledge and act on these risks, and address how they interact with other threats to the United States, as part of the complex job of keeping the nation, including our men and women in uniform, safe. However, despite his departure in February, Secretary Mattis’ example lives on within the Department of Defense, where a broad range of leaders at all levels of the military and across the service branches continue to deal with the very real consequences of climate change to their missions. That includes billions of dollars of damage to military infrastructure and assets from just the most recent climate events.

This is a reality that the U.S. military has taken seriously for many decades, across Republican and Democratic administrations, and that will undoubtedly continue. Secretary Mattis’ successor will therefore enter a building that is clear-eyed about the threat of climate change, and it will be critically important for that person to help lead the effort in dealing with it.

UPDATE: Chronology of U.S. Military Statements and Actions on Climate Change and Security: 2017-2018

James_Mattis_Official_SECDEF_Photo

Since January 2017, 19 senior officials at the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) have raised concerns about, and recommended actions to address, the security implications of climate change, both due to its effect on military infrastructure, readiness and operations, and its broader geostrategic implications for the United States.

This includes Secretary of Defense, James Mattis; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul J. Selva; Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer; Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment (IE&E), Lucian L. Niemeyer; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy, and the Environment, Phyllis L. Bayer; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy, John Henderson; Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters; Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran; Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen Wilson; Army Vice Chief of Staff, General James McConville; AFRICOM Commander General Thomas D. Waldhauser; Air Force Director of Civil Engineers, Major General Timothy Green; NORTHCOM/ NORAD Commander, General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy; Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment, Alex Beehler; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, General Robert McMahon; and most recently, General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The DoD also produced a survey report on the matter in January 2018.

Below is a chronological list of written and verbal statements by these defense officials, as well as links to DoD reports and other government documents covering the climate-military nexus, that have been released during this Administration thus far. Each entry includes a link to its source, which includes more information and context. (more…)

Briefer: The Pentagon’s Forthcoming Climate Report – What to Expect and How Congress Should Use It

CSAG Briefer_2018_11_6In February 2018, the Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG) issued a report titled “A Responsibility to Prepare – Strengthening National and Homeland Security in the Face of a Changing Climate” which included a series of recommendations for the U.S. government.  Among its recommendations, the CSAG supported Congressional direction in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to assess vulnerabilities to military installations and combatant commander requirements resulting from climate change.  In that assessment, Congress directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to identify the ten installations per military service that are most vulnerable to climate change. That report is due on December 12, 2018.

Today, a little less than a month before that deadline, the CSAG is publishing a briefer offering context, advice and recommendations to Congress and the DoD regarding this report, and next steps on assessing and preparing for climate change risks to the nation’s military. Click here for the full report.

The Climate and Security Podcast: Episode Two with Rear Admiral Ann Phillips

Ann Phillips_CandSpodcastWelcome again to The Climate and Security Podcast!

In the second episode, host Dr. Chakraborty talks to Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board member, Rear Admiral Ann Phillips, U.S. Navy (Ret), about connecting the big picture existential threat that is climate change to its local level impacts on our daily lives. While most people don’t think about it day to day, residents of Hampton Roads, VA know all too well what climate change looks like in their community and what it could mean for communities worldwide.  (more…)