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By John Conger
As reported by The Military Times, a bipartisan group of 40 lawmakers recently wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Mattis reinforcing Congressional intent when it comes to reporting on climate change: namely that when Congress asks for a report on climate change, they intend for it to at least mention the term.
Their concern was stoked by a recent Washington Post report that alleged the Administration had stripped a number of references to climate change out of a report (dubbed SLVAS) detailing the impacts of climate on DoD installations worldwide. The final SLVAS report, though it only includes one reference to climate change (page 9), indicated that more than half of DoD bases had seen increases in adverse weather impacts. (more…)
In an article published today by CNN, the Center for Climate and Security’s Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, U.S. Navy (Ret), former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, has an important bit of advice for the U.S. President and other NATO leaders as they head to Brussels to participate in the NATO Summit: Take the advice of U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and acknowledge the security threat of a changing climate.
From the article:
US Defense Secretary James Mattis is one of this country’s greatest military leaders. A former four-star Marine General, he’s well read, thoughtful, pragmatic and highly intelligent. As our foremost national security strategist, in 2017, he described climate change as a threat facing the US.
“The effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation,” he wrote.
Since then, 15 other senior US defense leaders have reaffirmed that view.
Read the full article at the CNN website.
Notably though unsurprisingly, due to consistent expressions of concern about climate change from senior defense leaders over the past year, the Department of Defense (DoD) on Sunday reaffirmed its stance on the growing national security risks associated with a changing climate. In a statement to the Washington Times, DoD spokesperson Heather Babb noted:
The effects of a changing climate continue to be a national security issue with potential impacts to missions, operational plans and installations…DOD has not changed its approach on ensuring installations and infrastructure are resilient to a wide range of challenges, including climate and other environmental considerations.
The article also quotes the Center for Climate and Security’s Director, John Conger, who commented on the practical, mission-based rationale for the military’s concern:
There are mission reasons to do these kinds of things. … If sea level rise is going to impact infrastructure, if a runway gets flooded, that’s a mission impact and that’s the kind of thing you’ve got to pay attention to.
It’s not like they’re doing some altruistic thing…They’re not trying to be good about climate change. They just recognize the reality that’s in front of you.
Read the full article here.
Led by Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Jim Langevin (D-RI), a bipartisan group of 106 lawmakers released an extraordinary letter last week urging the President of the United States to reconsider omission of climate change as a security threat in its National Security Strategy, citing the words of sitting Secretary of Defense James Mattis to underline the issue’s importance. (more…)
On July 13, the U.S. House of Representatives defended a provision in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act which identifies climate change as a “direct threat to the national security of the United States,” and requests a report from the Department of Defense on climate change risks to its mission over the next 20 years. Forty-six Republicans joined 188 Democrats in supporting the provision, for a vote tally of 234-185. A number of representatives spoke in favor of the provision, and cited Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s words in his responses to the Senate Armed Services Committee, wherein he noted that climate change is a current threat that is altering the strategic environment, and presenting a range of risks to military readiness and operations. Secretary Mattis’s statements were supported in a range of Congressional briefings that preceded the NDAA vote, held by the Center for Climate and Security and its partners on April 27, May 17, June 5, and July 12. (more…)
The current Administration’s top leadership on defense, diplomacy and intelligence – the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and Director of National Intelligence – all agree that climate change is happening and presents risks to the United States that must be addressed.
For example, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in his answers to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s “Questions for the Record,” made very robust statements about current – not future – impacts of climate change on the U.S. military’s mission. His statements were some of the most forward-leaning public sentiments on the issue expressed by a sitting Secretary of Defense: “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today. It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning…Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.”
Continue reading this article at The Cipher Brief
RELEASE: U.S. Military and National Security Leaders Encourage Secretaries Tillerson and Mattis to Lead Together on Climate Change and Security
Washington, D.C., May 8, 2017 — The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a policy institute with an Advisory Board of retired senior military officers and national security experts, today released two companion letters, one to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the other to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, encouraging them both to lead on addressing the security implications of climate change, and to work together in that effort. The letters were signed by a bipartisan group of senior retired military officers and national security officials with significant experience across Republican and Democratic Administrations (some of whom served directly with Secretary Mattis in the past). The letters come at a critical time, as the current Administration begins to plot its international engagement strategy on this important security challenge. (more…)