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By John Conger
Last week, President Biden signed the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), that Congress passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support. The bill included numerous climate security measures that echo a number of key recommendations in the Center for Climate and Security’s Climate Security Plan for America (CSPA).
Over the past several years, Congress has enacted a series of pragmatic measures on climate and security. Many of the measures have focused locally and tactically on the Defense Department’s infrastructure and resilience to extreme weather, while others have taken a wider view such as requiring a new Arctic Strategy or creating a Department of Defense Center for Arctic Security Studies. This year’s NDAA fills in the gaps between the tactical and strategic measures and codifies some provisions in President Biden’s executive orders on climate, which will help ensure they last beyond this administration.(more…)
By John Conger
On July 14, 2021, the Readiness Subcommittee of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee held a virtual hearing on the installations and environment portfolios of the Department of Defense (DoD). The witnesses were: Paul Cramer, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Sustainment); Jack Surash, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Installations, Energy and Environment); Todd Schafer, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment); and Jennifer Miller, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Energy, Installations, and Environment). The hearing and the witness statements addressed a wide range of topics in this portfolio – to include climate resilience at DoD installations.
Note that each of these senior officials was Acting in their positions at the time of the hearing. Each are senior civilian officials that are filling political jobs pending nomination and confirmation of political appointees in these roles. Since this hearing, Meredith Berger has been confirmed as the Navy’s Assistant Secretary. Rachel Jacobson is the pending nominee for the Army job. No nominee has been announced for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) or Air Force roles.(more…)
By John Conger
Sometimes you want to hear from the very top, and sometimes you want to get into the details. In the last couple of weeks, the U.S. Congress has done both, and each one teaches us something important about the way the Department of Defense (DoD) is planning to deal with climate change early in this Administration.
The first hearing described below included the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, covering a broad range of issues and setting the stage for the President’s budget release, which included climate change as a priority. The second addresses military infrastructure, which has been one of the key facets of the broader climate security portfolio within DoD. It is the part of the climate challenge that has imposed the largest direct cost on DoD so far, and countering it also involves significant investment. The second hearing gets into the details of this part of the portfolio.(more…)
This is an excerpt from an article published in War on the Rocks
By Kate Guy and Erin Sikorsky
One could be forgiven for thinking that a rising China is the only threat that the Department of Defense is preparing to confront. China is referred to as the “pacing threat” by senior defense officials, and the top news out of President Joe Biden’s inaugural visit to the Pentagon last month was a new “sprint effort” to review the U.S. approach to China. In that same visit, the president called on the Department of Defense to “rethink” and “reprioritize” security to meet the challenges of the 21st century, including climate change — but it was the China threat that got the “task force” moniker and a named leader that day. Yet in its “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” the administration mandated that climate change must now be at “the center of our national security and foreign policy,” a mandate reflected in newly released national security and defense guidance. To that end, the executive order directs the Department of Defense to prepare a comprehensive new “Climate Risk Analysis” in just 120 days — on the same timeline as the China sprint. This analysis, meant to examine the long-term, strategic security risks posed by climate change, demands at least equal investment and attention as the China effort.
Read the full article at War on the Rocks.