NEW REPORT FROM BLUE-RIBBON PANEL OF SENIOR ADMIRALS & GENERALS IDENTIFIES CLIMATE-RELATED MILITARY IMPACTS
Global climate change presents a serious national security threat that could affect Americans at home, impact
The study, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, explores ways projected climate change is a "threat multiplier" in already fragile regions of the world, exacerbating conditions that lead to failed states -- the breeding grounds for extremism and terrorism.
The CNA Corporation, a nonprofit research and analysis organization, brought Together eleven retired four-star and three-star admirals and generals to provide advice, expertise and perspective on the impact of climate change on national security. CNA writers and researchers compiled the report under the board's direction and review. The full report will be available at SecurityAndClimate.cna.org.
The Military Advisory Board members come from all branches of the armed services. The board includes a former Army chief of staff, commanders-in-chiefs of
oceanography. One member also served as
"Climate change is a national security issue," retired General. Gordon R. Sullivan, chairman of the Military Advisory Board and former Army chief of staff, said in releasing the report at a
"People are saying they want to be perfectly convinced about climate science projections," he said. "But speaking as a soldier, we never have 100 percent certainty. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield."
Military Advisory Board members said they remain optimistic that climate change challenges can be managed to reduce future risks. The first step recommended in the study is for the national intelligence community to include comprehensive assessments of climate change in future security plans, just as agencies now take into account traditional but uncertain threats.
As part of its five specific recommendations for action, the Military Advisory Board stated that "the path to mitigating the worst security consequences of climate change involves reducing global greenhouse gas emissions."
"There is a relationship between carbon emissions and our national security," General Sullivan said recently. "I think that the evidence is there that would suggest that we have to start paying attention." "Carbon emissions are clearly part of the problem," he added.
"We will pay for this one way or another," stated retired Marine Corps General Anthony C. Zinni, former commander of
Retired Navy Vice Admiral Richard H. Truly, a shuttle astronaut and former NASA administrator, said in the report that "unlike the challenges that we are used to dealing with, these will come upon us extremely slowly, but come they will, and they will be grinding and inexorable." Truly also notes that "maybe more challenging is that climate change will affect every nation, and all simultaneously. This is why we need to study this issue now, so that we'll be prepared and not overwhelmed by the required scope of our response when the time comes."
Environmental Threats Have Security Implications
The report recognizes that unabated climate change could bring an increased frequency of extreme storms, additional drought and flooding, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and the rapid spread of life-threatening disease. While these projected effects are usually viewed as environmental Challenges, the Military Advisory Board has looked at them from the perspective of national security assessments and has identified them as serious risk factors for:
* massive migrations
* increased border tensions
* greater demands for rescue and evacuation efforts
* conflicts over essential resourcesincluding
including food and water
Such developments could lead to direct
"Climate change can provide the conditions that will extend the war on terror," said retired Admiral T. Joseph Lopez, former commander-in-chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and of Allied Forces,
"In the long term, we want to address the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit," Admiral Lopez said. "But climate change will prolong those conditions. It makes them worse."
The report describes national security implications of climate change in regions of the world.
Europe: Tensions may rise as immigration from Africa and the Middle Eastexacerbated by climate changeplaces additional social and economic pressures on countries. Some of
"We ought to care about
Middle East: Noting this is the region of the world in which the
"The existing situation [in the
"It's not hard to make the connection between climate change and instability, or climate change and terrorism," General Zinni added.
One Military Advisory Board member, retired Navy Admiral Joseph W. Prueher, views Asia from two perspectives, having been commander of all
On the issue of carbon emissions, it doesnt help us to solve our problem if
Impacts on Military Bases and Operations
The Military Advisory Board found that climate change impacts may affect
*Rising sea levels could threaten coastal bases at
home and abroad.
* Increasing storm activity could deter the militarys
ability to perform routine maintenance or carry out
* Changing ocean salinity could require changes in
sonar and submarine systems.
*Drought conditions could require new logistical plans
and equipment for moving water to
* The need for new kinds of humanitarian operations
could necessitate new training to address these
Climate change may have differing impacts on the four branches of the armed services. The former head of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, retired General Paul J. Kern, said changes may make it more difficult for the Army to handle basic supplies.
Military planning should view climate change as a threat to the balance of energy access, water supplies, and a healthy environment, and it should require a response, General Kern said in the report. Responding after the fact with troopsafter a crisis occursis one kind of response. Working to delay these changesto accommodate a balance among these staplesis, of course, another way.
General Wald raised additional concerns. There are a number of questions we should be asking now, if were to prepare for some of the projected impacts, he said in talking about the report. Will the Air Force be expected to move larger quantities of supplies, including fuel, food or drinking water? Will they be expected to move larger numbers of people, perhaps in evacuations? Will we have the right kind of equipment, personnel and training to handle new missions, without diminishing our conventional military capacity? Thats barely a start, but it gives you a sense of the scale of potential change.
The report notes that changes in the salinity of oceans, if glaciers melt and water temperatures change, could affect submarine equipment such as sonar. There may also be a greater need for civilian evacuations. Marines and Special Operations forces are trained and equipped now primarily for small- to medium-sized rescue operations.
Admiral Pilling said that if climate change increases the frequency or intensity of hurricanes, there could be a destabilizing effect on the Navy, especially in the
The report cites the
challenges in a changed environment? Will it inspire a mission that requires greater air support from the Navy or the Air Force? What kinds of new basing arrangements will be necessary? These are questions security planners should be contemplating.
The Military Advisory Board chose not to engage in debate over climate science but did note that current levels of atmospheric carbon are already at historically high levels and are increasing. This rise presents the prospect of significant climate change, the board said in its letter transmitting the report to the American public. And while uncertainty exists and debate continues regarding the science and futureextent of projected climate changes, the trends are clear. The nature and pace of climate changes being observed today and the consequences projected by the consensus scientific opinion are grave and pose equally grave implications for our national security.
The Military Advisory Board called on the Defense Department to find ways to limit the extent of climate change, in part by controlling its own greenhouse gas emissions and fuel use while simultaneously increasing combat capabilities for American forces worldwide.
Our national security is inextricably linked to our countrys energy security, said retired Navy Admiral Frank Skip Bowman, who was director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion program.
The military should be interested in fuel economy on the battlefield, retired Lieutenant General Lawrence P. Farrell Jr., who was deputy Air Force chief of staff for plans and programs, said in the report. Its a readiness issue. If you can move your men and materiel more quickly, if you have less
tonnage but the same level of protection and firepower, youre more efficient on the battlefield. Thats a life and death issue.
Findings and Recommendations
The report includes several formal findings:
" Projected climate change poses a serious threat to
" Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for
instability in some of the most volatile regions of the
" Projected climate change will add to tensions even in
stable regions of the world.
" Climate change, national security and energy
dependence are a related set of global challenges.
The report also made several specific recommendations:
" The national security consequences of climate change
should be fully integrated into national security and
national defense strategies.
international role to help stabilize climate changes at
levels that will avoid significant disruption to global
security and stability.
help less developed nations build the capacity and
resiliency to better manage climate impacts.
" The Department of Defense should enhance its
operational capability by accelerating the adoption
of improved business processes and innovative
technologies that result in improved
power through energy efficiency.
" DoD should conduct an assessment of the impact on
US military installations worldwide of rising sea
levels, extreme weather events, and other possible
climate change impacts over the next thirty to forty
MILITARY ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
The Military Advisory Board is composed of eleven of the nations most senior former officers and national security experts:
" Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA (ret), Military Advisory Board Chairman, former Army chief of staff and current president of the Association of the United States Army
" Adm. Frank Skip Bowman, USN (ret), former director of naval nuclear propulsion at the Naval Sea Systems Command
" Lt. Gen. Lawrence P. Farrell Jr., USAF (ret), former deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, Headquarters U.S. Air Force
" Vice Adm. Paul G. Gaffney II, USN (ret), former chief of naval research and head of the Navy Meteorology and Oceanography Command
" Gen. Paul J. Kern,
" Adm. T. Joseph Lopez, USN (ret), former commander-in-chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and of Allied Forces,
" Adm. Donald L. Pilling, USN (ret), former vice chief of naval operations and Navy chief financial officer
" Adm. Joseph W. Prueher, USN (ret), former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command and former
"Vice Adm. Richard H. Truly, USN (ret), former NASA administrator, shuttle astronaut and the first commander of the Naval Space Command
" Gen. Charles F. Chuck Wald, USAF (ret), former deputy commander, USEUCOM and director of Strategic Planning and Policy at Headquarters U.S. Air Force
" Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (ret), former commander, CENTCOM
Writing and research support for the report came from the CNA Corporation. For more than 60 years, the nonprofit institution has been one of the preeminent national security research centers in the nation.