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Combating Cyberthreats and Stormwater Surges: These Fields Have More in Common Than You Think

1600px-Texas_Army_National_Guard_Hurricane_Harvey_Response

Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard move floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West)

By Dan Allen, Research Fellow

In the cyberworld, computer servers, routers, firewalls, and other similar technologies, sit at the outermost edge, or perimeter, of a protected computer network. These cyber devices form a boundary between vulnerable internal resources and outside networks (such as the internet), and hackers often focus on breaching these “edge” devices. For example, successful cyberattacks at the web application layer perimeter can bypass perimeter security provided by a network firewall, server, and routers. Similarly, threats resulting from climate change, which are also multifaceted and multidirectional in nature, can bypass traditional, one-dimensional, perimeter-focused risk prevention methods such as the infamously inadequate system of storm categorization that measure a storm’s strength in terms of wind velocity, but says little about how a storm will interact with the tides to create a destructive storm surge.

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2017 Hurricanes: Military Increasingly Getting Its Feet Wet

Loading Water Navy (Puerto Rico)

Sailors load water near San Juan, Puerto Rico, as humanitarian relief following Hurricane Maria. Navy photo, Petty Officer 3rd Class Danny Ray Nunez Jr.

By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, United States Navy (Retired), Senior Research Fellow

Admiral Keating, Commander of U.S. Northern Command from 2004 to 2007, remarked that “The energy Katrina released was the equivalent of 1,000 Hiroshima explosions.” In responding to the aftermath of the hurricane, U.S. Northern Command units – in conjunction with the National Guard – providing tens of thousands of military personnel, search and rescue resources, and humanitarian supplies.

Though the combined destructive energy and impact of the 2017 Hurricane triumvirate, Harvey, Irma and Maria, have yet to be conclusively framed and assessed, it’s worthwhile even now to look at some of the ways that the military is increasingly being drawn into the kinds of battles that can’t be won with weaponry. Such conversations are especially relevant since the military (particularly, Combatant Commands, their components, and National Guard units) is increasingly being called upon to significantly augment civil emergency agencies after big storms events. (more…)

How a Hurricane Could Paralyze the U.S. Government and Jeopardize National Security

Photographic copy of an historic photograph (From the Navy Yard Historical Center). AERIAL VIEW OF THE NAVY YARD DURING THE 1936 FLOOD. VIEW LOOKING NORTHWEST. BUILDING 36, JUST HABS DC,WASH,74-F-35

Aerial view of the Navy Yard during the 1936 flood. Photo by Library of Congress

How a Major Hurricane Could Paralyze the Government and Jeopardize National Security or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Preparedness (cheesy reference to Dr. Strangelove for those who missed it).

Last week, Rolling Stone Magazine’s Justin Nobel wrote a lengthy article that asks a question not many people are asking: What Happens When a Superstorm Hits D.C.?. Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board Member, Brigadier General Gerry Galloway, U.S. Army (retired), one of the nation’s premier experts on flood risks to critical military and civilian infrastructure, was interviewed for the story. From the article:

When the big storm hits D.C., the resulting disaster may not kill as many as Katrina, or flood as much physical real estate as Harvey, but the toll it takes on American institutions will be unfathomable. The storm will paralyze many of the agencies that operate and defend the nation, raising the specter of national-security threats. Imagine, says Gerald Galloway, a disaster and national-security expert at the University of Maryland who served 38 years in the military, “the world waking up some morning to see an aerial photograph of Washington, D.C., with everything from the Lincoln Memorial to the grounds of the Capitol under-water – that certainly does not speak well for the United States’ preparedness.”

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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…)

5 things to know about Hurricanes, Hampton Roads and National Security

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) departs Naval Station Norfolk ahead of Hurricane Irene. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Parde

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) departs Naval Station Norfolk ahead of Hurricane Irene. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Parde

By Matt Connolly, Center for Climate and Security Virginia Project Fellow

With Hurricane Joaquin threatening to hit the eastern seaboard this weekend, the United States’ largest naval base is on high alert.  At Naval Station Norfolk, sailors are working to secure the base against impending flooding and prepare for Sortie Condition Bravo, an order for all Navy ships in Virginia’s military-saturated Hampton Roads region to be prepared to leave port within 24 hours in order to avoid damage to ships and piers from high winds and seas.  
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