Oroville Mercury-Register

Pentagon’s climate plan: war-fighting in hotter, harsher world

- By Ellen Knickmeyer

WASHINGTON » A new Pentagon plan calls for incorporat­ing the realities of a hotter, harsher Earth at every level in the U.S. military, from making worsening climate extremes a mandatory part of strategic planning to training troops how to secure their own water supplies and treat heat injury.

The Pentagon — whose jets, aircraft carriers, truck convoys, bases and office buildings cumulative­ly burn more oil than most countries — was among the federal agencies that President Joe Biden ordered to overhaul their climate-resilience plans when he took office in January. About 20 agencies were releasing those plans Thursday.

“These are essential steps, not just to meet a requiremen­t, but to defend the nation under all conditions,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in a letter accompanyi­ng the Pentagon’s climate plan.

It follows decades of U.S. military assessment­s that climate change is a threat to U.S. national security, given increased risks of conflict over water and other scarcer resources, threats to U.S. military installati­ons and supply chains, and added risks to troops.

The U.S. military is the single largest institutio­nal consumer of oil in the world, and as such a key contributo­r to the worsening climate globally. But the Pentagon plan focuses on adapting to climate change, not on cutting its own significan­t output of climatewre­cking fossil fuel pollution.

It sketches out in businessli­ke terms the kind of risks U.S. forces face in the grim world ahead: Roadways collapsing under convoys as permafrost melts. Crucial equipment failing in extreme heat or cold. U.S. troops in dry regions overseas competing with local population­s for dwindling water supplies, creating “friction or even conflict.”

Already, worsening wildfires in the U.S. West, fiercer hurricanes on the coasts and increasing heat in some areas are interrupti­ng U.S. military training and readiness.

The new Department of Defense plan cites the example of Hurricane Michael in 2018, which hit Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Beyond the $3 billion it cost to rebuild, the storm knocked out the country’s top simulator and classroom training for F-22s stealth fighter jets for months. It was just one of several hurricanes and floods that have affected operations as U.S. bases in recent years.

The climate adaptation plan focuses on what it says is the need to incorporat­e accurate and current climate data and considerat­ions into strategic, operationa­l and tactical decision-making. That includes continued training of senior officers and others in what the report calls climate literacy.

“Failure to properly integrate a climate change understand­ing of related risks may significan­tly increase the Department’s adaptation and operating costs over time, ... imperil the supply chain, and/or result in degraded and outdated department capabiliti­es,” the plan warns.

 ?? PATRICK SEMANSKY — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.
PATRICK SEMANSKY — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States