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Yesterday, on the heels of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on climate change and national security, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, General David L. Goldfein, and the outgoing Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Heather A. Wilson, spoke about the security implications of climate change during a posture hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In response to a question about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s previous comments on the subject, General Goldfein highlighted the connection between climate change, extreme drought and the start of the Syrian civil war (an issue we first wrote about in 2012), and stated: “what Chairman Dunford was talking about was that we have to respond militarily very often to the effects, globally, of climate change.” Secretary Wilson also spoke about the importance of climate resilience at Air Force bases, as articulated in the Air Force’s recent infrastructure investment strategy, noting “We don’t leave our bases to fight. We fight from our bases. And so their resilience is very important.” (more…)
By Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs
The Center for Climate and Security recently held a one-day event in San Diego to discuss climate change and security issues as they affect the Pacific coast. Pacific-facing military installations and communities confront a unique set of climate risks and resilience issues. Geostrategic dynamics around expanding US defense posture in the Asia-Pacific also have implications for local planning and infrastructure (e.g. housing and transportation). The missions which these installations support may be influenced by climate-related factors, including fragility risk and demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster response in the Asia-Pacific. At the same time, climate stressors in the Southwest such as drought, wildfires, storms and sea level rise impact area installations and have a bearing on military readiness and operational capabilities. (more…)
Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board member, Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, U.S. Army (ret), recently spoke to the Weather Channel about sea level rise risks to military installations along the U.S. coast. When asked where the Department of Defense (DoD) was in its planning for sea level rise (compared to other communities along the coast), General Galloway noted that it has been doing so since the G.W. Bush Administration, and that military bases and their surrounding support communities must build resilience to sea level rise risks in tandem. From the interview: (more…)
If you haven’t already, head over to KCRW 89.9 (the NPR affiliate in Southern California) to listen to Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board member Brigadier General Gerry Galloway, U.S. Army (ret) discuss the very practical approach the U.S. military takes when it comes to a changing climate. The section on national security begins at 16:35, and it’s worth a listen.
A short summary: The Pentagon is doing its job to prepare. Military bases and surrounding communities in the U.S. experiencing sea level rise and storm surge, as well as the overseas combatant commands dealing with our allies, partners and adversaries, have a duty to reduce the infrastructural and strategic risks of a changing climate. The military doesn’t have the luxury to wait for the political debate to settle.
General Galloway’s comments reflect his many years of experience on these issues within the U.S. Army, his deep knowledge as a professor of engineering, and his invaluable contributions to the Center for Climate and Security’s “Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission.”
General Ron Keys, United States Air Force (ret), in his capacity as Advisory Board member with the Center for Climate and Security and Chairman of the CNA Advisory Board, recently opened up the annual Common Good Forum with an excellent speech titled “Planning for Disaster – Climate Change and National Security.” In the speech, General Keys emphasized that the U.S. military doesn’t play politics with climate change and energy security, because it doesn’t have that luxury. The U.S. military looks at both climate change and energy security through the lens of how they effect its capacity to do its job as a war-fighter and humanitarian responder. A few key passages from the General: (more…)
In case you missed it, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs, Sharon Burke, wrote a compelling article for CNN titled: “US Military’s New Foe.” After four years in this important role at the Department of Defense (and years of working on these issues prior to holding that position), Burke’s insights are a particularly compelling addition to this discussion. In the article, Burke details the various ways in which climate change presents a threat to the U.S. military, including direct impacts on military bases (more…)
The U.S. Department of Defense is preparing itself for climate change risks to its military installations in the United States, and making the necessary investments. According to the Arizona Daily Star, the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment “will get close to $2 million in research grants over the next few years to help figure out how drought, dust storms, forest fires, lightning and rising temperatures could affect defense bases across the American Southwest.”