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Over the past twelve months, 12 senior officials at the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) have raised concerns about, and recommended actions to address, the security implications of climate change, both due to its effect on military infrastructure, readiness and operations, and its broader geostrategic implications for the United States.
This includes Secretary of Defense, James Mattis; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul J. Selva; Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer; Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment (IE&E), Lucian L. Niemeyer; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy, and the Environment, Phyllis L. Bayer; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy, John Henderson; Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters; Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran; Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen Wilson; and Army Vice Chief of Staff, General James McConville. The DoD also produced a survey report on the matter in January of this year.
Below is a chronological list of written and verbal statements by these defense officials, as well as links to DoD reports and other government documents covering the climate-military nexus, that have been released during this Administration thus far. Each entry includes a link to its source. (more…)
Climate change impacts security in myriad ways and on multiple scales, from local infrastructure to international geopolitics. At the Center for Climate and Security, that has been reflected in a range of analysis covering these multiple types and levels of security risk, including a report on sea level rise and its impact on U.S. military infrastructure, and another on the connections between climate change and the Arab Spring. However, new risks are emerging seemingly every day, and some of them remain under-explored. Most recently, we conducted a pioneering look at the intersection of climate, security and nuclear affairs (including nuclear security and proliferation), bringing together experts from both fields to produce a roadmap for how these risks might be understood and managed together, rather than separately. In this context, a new journal article from Jeff Colgan explores new risks that are literally emerging from the ice, as Arctic melting reveals nuclear waste at an (abandoned) military site in Greenland. See his writeup – a cross-post from the New Security Beat – below. (more…)
Hearing: Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force Leadership All Highlight Climate Change Risks to Military Readiness
Last Wednesday, during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on “Current Readiness of the U.S. Forces,” senior leadership from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force all highlighted climate change-related risks to their respective military installations, and force readiness, in a very substantive and illuminating exchange with Senator Tim Kaine.
The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters, and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran, both warned of serious sea level rise threats to critical Marine and Navy installations, citing a shared status as “waterfront organizations.” Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson, and Army Vice Chief of Staff General James McConville, noted rising threats from forest fires, floods and hurricanes, including to energy resiliency across their bases. Below is both a summary and full transcript of those statements, as well as a link to the hearing video (exchange with Senator Kaine begins at 01:07:40). (more…)
In Questions for the Record (QFRs) submitted by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee to the Administration’s nominees for Assistant Secretary Of The Navy For Installations, Energy, And The Environment (Mrs. Phyllis L. Bayer) and Assistant Secretary Of The Air Force For Installations, Environment, And Energy (Mr. John Henderson), they were each asked a question on how they would address climate change-related risks to the Department of Defense. Both followed the lead of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who has made some of the strongest statements of any Secretary of Defense on the need to address the security implications of climate change in his own responses to the QFRs. Below are Bayer’s and Henderson’s answers: (more…)
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics released a comprehensive new survey of climate change-related risks to military infrastructure worldwide. The study, prosaically titled “Climate-Related Risk to DoD Infrastructure Initial Vulnerability Assessment Survey (SLVAS) Report,” is a response to a Congressional request from 2016,* based on the DoD’s 2015 commitment to conducting a:
…global screening level assessment to determine installation vulnerabilities to climate-related security risks with the goal of identifying serious vulnerabilities and developing necessary adaptation strategies.
Last week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, or GAO, issued a report “Climate Change Adaptation: DoD Needs to Better Incorporate Adaptation into Planning and Collaboration at Overseas Installations.” In summary, the report found that, well, the DoD needs to better incorporate adaptation into planning and collaboration at overseas installations. It was a pretty descriptive title…See below for some extracts of note: (more…)