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Stars and Stripes magazine’s Wyatt Olson recently published a very interesting and thorough article titled “PACOM not waiting for politics to plan for climate change challenges.” The article details the reasons U.S. Pacific Command is taking climate change seriously, and some of what it’s doing to combat the threat.
A great quote from the piece, which perfectly encapsulates the national security community’s risk management approach to climate change, comes from Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod. He stated:
Seventy percent of the bad storms that happen in the world are in the Pacific,” he said. “Call it climate change, call it the big blue rabbit, I don’t give a hoot what you call it — the military has to respond to those kinds of things.
At the Atlantic Council in March, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, head of U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) – in charge of all U.S. forces in the Pacific region – revealed some practical wisdom he communicates to those that work for him. He stated:
… if there’s one thing I tell everybody that comes to work for me – every commander – I [say] ‘While you’re here, you may not have a conflict with another military, but you will have a natural disaster that you have to either assist in, or be prepared to manage the consequences on the other side. And that has been true every year.
In the context of typhoon Neogori, which recently hit Okinawa, Japan (also host to the U.S. Kadena Air Base), and the likelihood of an increase in extreme weather disasters in the region over time (due to population and climate change dynamics), these words are likely to remain relevant for some time to come.
About a year ago, the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, identified climate change as the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region. He defended that assertion during Senate testimony soon after those comments were made. And just yesterday, Admiral Locklear stood by his assessment during a conversation with the Atlantic Council’s Barry Pavel. We’ve included a transcript of those sections of the discussion including climate change below (we’ve underlined some phrases for emphasis), but encourage people to watch the whole video for a fascinating look at how the USPACOM Commander sees his role in the wake of the recently-released QDR, the so-called Asia-Pacific rebalance, budget pressures, and the reemergence of security threats in Europe. (more…)
On April 9th, Admiral Samuel Locklear III, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), gave testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the role of U.S. Pacific Command “in review of the defense authorization request for fiscal year 2014, and the Future Years Defense program.” In response to a question from Senator Inhofe regarding recent statements made by the Admiral on the security threat of climate change in the Asia-Pacific region, Admiral Locklear reaffirmed the importance of the issue from U.S.PACOM’s perspective. From page 10-11: (more…)