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Last week, the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG) released a new report evaluating the climate resilience of US military bases in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic that provides a revealing glimpse of some of the challenges and opportunities facing the DoD as it works to implement climate security measures across its enterprise.
First, the report underscores the number one takeaway that the Climate Security Advisory Group identified in Challenge Accepted, our scorecard of the Biden Administration’s climate security policy: the need to move from words to action. The IG report shows the yawning gap between what policymakers mandate in Washington, what tools the Pentagon creates, and what actually happens (or doesn’t happen) out in the field. The report found little to no action at the bases on climate resilience, noting that, “military installation leaders focused on existing weather and energy challenges rather than analyzing their installations’ infrastructure, assets, and mission exposure and vulnerability to climate change; the DoD and Service Components did not provide guidance for implementing military installation resilience assessments; and installation leaders lacked resources to analyze and assess climate change.”(more…)
“Climate change is an increasingly destabilizing force—an accelerating destabilization force—and it’s impacting our operational environment, it’s creating new missions, and our allies and partners are going to be called to respond to these increased demands,” said Brigadier General Rebecca Sonkiss, Deputy Director for Counter Threats and International Cooperation at the Joint Staff (J5), at a recent event hosted by the Wilson Center and the Center for Climate and Security. At the event, senior U.S. Government officials reflected on the significance of the Biden administration’s new climate security reports and how climate security is being prioritized and coordinated across defense and development, providing insight into the administration’s whole-of-government approach.(more…)
The Department of Defense (DoD) plan can be found here, as well as a statement from Secretary of Defense Austin and the DoD press release. It’s an impressive successor to the 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, and its ambition reflects the tone of this Administration – a tone set within its first week when President Biden signed Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.
Stay tuned for more on other agency plans covering climate security.
By John Conger
On July 14, 2021, the Readiness Subcommittee of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee held a virtual hearing on the installations and environment portfolios of the Department of Defense (DoD). The witnesses were: Paul Cramer, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Sustainment); Jack Surash, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Installations, Energy and Environment); Todd Schafer, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment); and Jennifer Miller, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Energy, Installations, and Environment). The hearing and the witness statements addressed a wide range of topics in this portfolio – to include climate resilience at DoD installations.
Note that each of these senior officials was Acting in their positions at the time of the hearing. Each are senior civilian officials that are filling political jobs pending nomination and confirmation of political appointees in these roles. Since this hearing, Meredith Berger has been confirmed as the Navy’s Assistant Secretary. Rachel Jacobson is the pending nominee for the Army job. No nominee has been announced for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) or Air Force roles.(more…)