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Senior Military Leaders to Congress: Climate Change Presents Strategic Challenges in the Arctic

General OShaughnessy

General O’Shaughnessy, nominee for NORTHCOM & NORAD Commander, responds to a question on climate change before the Senate Armed Services Committee, April 17, 2018

By Heather Messera

“The damn thing melted” – Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer on the Arctic, April 19, 2018

Over just the past few days, three senior military leaders from the Air Force and the Navy have raised significant concerns about the effects of climate change on the military mission in the Arctic.

First, on Tuesday, April 17, 4-star Air Force General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding his nomination to be Commander of United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). While the full hearing is worth watching (including the comments of Admiral Davidson, the PACOM nominee), a notable exchange on climate change between Senator Blumenthal and General O’Shaughnessy occurred at the 1:27:08 minute mark.  Asked about whether or not climate change presents strategic challenges in the Arctic – part of NORTHCOMs and NORADs Area of Responsibility (AoR) – General O’Shaughnessy replied “Senator, it absolutely does.” General O’Shaughnessy then went on to detail increases in activity in a thawing Arctic, highlighting the need to consider strategic competition in the region with Russia and China.  (more…)