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Military Times: Pentagon still preparing for climate change

Sailors_and_Soldiers_load_water_onto_an_MH-60S_Sea_Hawk_helicopter._(37044691925)

BEAUMONT, Texas (Sept. 3, 2017) U.S. Army Soldiers and U.S. Navy Sailors load water for delivery to victims of Hurricane Harvey, Sept. 3, 2017.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.,/Released)

There’s a great article in the Military Times today by Tara Copp detailing the degree to which the U.S. military continues to prepare for a changing climate, and the attendant impacts on its mission. In the piece, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr Patrick Evans states:

“As Secretary Mattis has said, the department evaluates all potential threats that impact mission readiness, personnel health and installation resilience, then uses that information to assess impacts and identify responses,” Evans said. “The effect of a changing climate is one of a variety of threats and risks, but it’s not a mission of the Department of Defense.”

Though this approach by the Department of Defense is not surprising, given the military’s long history of attention to the issue stretching back to 2003, and the unequivocal statements on the subject from at least four senior Pentagon leaders in the current Administration (Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva; Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer; and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment, Lucian Niemeyer) the article provides an important look into the very real and practical risks climate change and related weather events pose to military infrastructure and operations. This is especially in focus for the Department of Defense in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which have had a significant impact on the military in a number of ways, both in terms of its role in the relief effort, and the exposure of its infrastructure and assets. From the article: (more…)

Retired General Keys and British Rear Admiral Morisetti: Climate Change a Global Security Issue

As part of a national tour, General Ronald Keys (Ret., USAF), and British Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti recently spoke to the Energy Innovation Business Council of Michigan on the security imperative of developing alternative energies and combating climate change. According to MLive, Retired General Keys, who is a member of CNA’s Military Advisory Board, stated: “This is not a passing fad or a bunch of folks hugging trees…For us, this is serious business.” Speaking to the security rationale for energy efficiency and alternative fuel-development, General Keys also highlighted the significant dangers involved in protecting fuel convoys on the field of battle, which have cause around 10% of soldier deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to General Keys: “If we can reduce the amount of convoys, we’ll reduce the amount of blood spilled…Every gallon of fuel is a vulnerability and puts people in harm’s way. That is why the Department of Defense cares about this so much.”

Rear Admiral Morisetti followed with his assessment of the security implications of climate change: “Climate change will increase the stress in parts of the world where we will see instability in areas that we have had conflicts for the past 30 years.”

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