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U.S. National Guard Chief: Climate change “part of our job jar”

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Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard move floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West)

Over the last month, the US National Guard has activated thousands of members from across the country to help put out wildfires and respond to three severe hurricanes. It is no wonder then that when asked by a reporter on Tuesday how the climate was affecting National Guard activities, General Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, went into detail on why he takes it seriously (see below). General Lengyel also emphasized that the impacts of climate change are felt around the country. As the wildfires and hurricanes demonstrate, natural disasters in one region of the United States are often responded to by National Guard members from all across the country – sometimes from states thousands of miles away.  Secretary of Defense James Mattis has stated that preparing for climate requires a “whole of government” response. Gen Lengyel’s comments suggest it will also require a “whole of country” response.  (more…)

Special Issue: Health Security and Climate Change

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Philippine and U.S. service members learn to identify heat stroke (photo by Lance Cpl. Perria)

The Journal Health Security has a special issue out on climate change. The contents and abstracts are listed below. The special issue does a great job of exploring the emerging intersection between health and climate security, including a look at wildfires, the role of the US Department of Defense, and risks related to extreme heat. The issue is open access (free articles) for the next two months, so get reading! (more…)

U.S. Troops Deployed to Fight Wildfires in Drought-Stricken Western United States

The Alaska Army National Guard supported fire suppression efforts in June 2015 in and near Willow, Alaska. UH-60 Black Hawks from the 1-207th Aviation Regiment flew multiple missions, dipping their orange water buckets into waters east of Willow Lake and dropping thousands of gallons of water over the east side of the fire, about five miles north of Willow Airport. Sgt. Sonny Cooper, a crew chief for the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, flew on a crew during firefighting efforts, and operated the water bucket during missions. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. Kevan Katkus)

The Alaska Army National Guard supported fire suppression efforts in June 2015 in and near Willow, Alaska.

This week 200 US Army Reserve troops were deployed to fight wildfires in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, joining thousands of firefighters and National Guardsmen who have been working to control one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, including some record-breaking wildfires that were visible from space. At least two firefighters have lost their lives this season. But this year’s wildfires have not been limited to the U.S. Pacific Northwest. (more…)

While World Leaders Gather to Talk Climate, DOD Steps Up Effort To Fight Wildfires

A U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, California Army National Guard conducts annual helicopter bucket training at Irvine Lake, Calif., April 5, 2014, to prepare for wildfire season

A U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, California Army National Guard conducts annual helicopter bucket training at Irvine Lake, Calif., April 5, 2014, to prepare for wildfire season

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Northern Command issued a press release yesterday announcing its continued assistance to support firefighting efforts in California. This is in addition to the on-going efforts by DOD and the National Guard throughout the summer. The press releases noted the following:

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Sept. 22, 2014 – Two Department of Defense C-130 aircraft equipped with U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems and under the command and control of U.S. Northern Command will be assisting with wildfire suppression efforts in California and the Northwest Geographic Area at the request of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, Northcom officials said in a news release issued yesterday.

The full release can be found here. (more…)

DOD Battles Western Wildfires Amid State of Emergency

A U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, California Army National Guard conducts annual helicopter bucket training at Irvine Lake, Calif., April 5, 2014, to prepare for wildfire season

A U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, California Army National Guard conducts annual helicopter bucket training at Irvine Lake, Calif., April 5, 2014, to prepare for wildfire season

On August 4th, from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, U.S. Northern command released a news report on its support for battling wildfires. Today, NORTHCOM officials issued an update on their wildfire efforts, noting that:

Since July 20, DoD aircraft have conducted 76 airdrops and discharged more than 137,000 gallons of fire retardant.

Over the last 24 hours, officials said, DoD aircraft conducted two airdrops and discharged about 5,700 gallons of retardant on the Bald Sisters fire in Oregon. Over the same period, seven airdrops discharged about 11,600 gallons of retardant on the East Mountain fire in Idaho.

The supporting unit flying the MAFFS mission is the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing, based in Cheyenne.

(more…)

Australia’s Firefighting Force Must Double by 2030

Bushfire_AustraliaThis is a cross-post from ReliefAnalysis.com

By Mehmet Burk

Climate Change could catalyze the need for Australia to double its fire fighting force by 2030. But climate change’s global impacts could also unravel international mutual aid agreements used in the continent’s current response operations. (more…)

Weather, Satellite Data, and National Security

800px-2013_colorado_floods_natl_guardIf you have not already read Nancy Colleton’s new piece in the Washington Post’s Capitol Weather Gang, “Weather Data: a national security priority,” it’s worth a look. In the piece Colleton, who is President of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, lays out the need for better forecasting and weather data collection capabilities and why this is a matter of national security, especially in the face of a changing climate where extreme weather events are likely to be more frequent and intense. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. (more…)