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NEWS | June 16, 2022

DOD preparing for climate change impacts

By David Vergun DOD News

Climate change has serious implications for national security, said the Defense Department's chief sustainability officer and senior advisor for climate.

Two soldiers stand in a desert environment, silhouetted by the sun.
Sun Silhouette
Soldiers from the 10th Special Forces Group look out over the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., Aug. 17, 2021. The terrain and environment at the National Training Center closely matches the hot, dry conditions soldiers experience while on some deployments.
Photo By: Army Spc. Steven Alger
VIRIN: 210817-A-AQ836-0658C

Joe Bryan joined a panel discussion yesterday on "U.S. Climate Security Investments: Changing Plans into Actions" at a virtual Center for Climate and Security event. 

"Climate change is dramatically increasing the demand for military operations and, at the same time, impacting our readiness and our ability to meet those demands while imposing unsustainable costs on the department," he said. 

Among the global effects of climate change are a warmer climate; changing precipitation patterns; and, more frequent, intense and unpredictable extreme weather. 

A man surveys a shoreline.
Shoreline Survey
Matt Whitbeck, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supervisory biologist, examines shoreline protection improvements during a coastal resiliency project tour at Smith Island near Ewell, Md., Oct. 7, 2021.
Photo By: Greg Nash, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Baltimore District
VIRIN: 211007-A-OX377-2009Q

Besides climate impacts on the physical environment, climate change is altering technology and markets as the world adjusts to the reality and a rapidly advancing energy transition, he said.  

Climate change also affects the militaries of allies and partners, as well as competitors and adversaries. The nations that are most resilient and best able to manage the effects of climate change will secure an advantage, Bryan said. 

For the U.S. military to maintain its advantage, it will need to continue investing in items that mitigate the effects of climate change, he said. 

A line of solar panels reflect the sun on a partly cloudy day.
Solar Array
A new 350 kilowatt-hour solar array was installed near the Hill Aerospace Museum at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, June 25, 2021. Rocky Mountain Power built the array and will own and operate it for the next 25 years as part of its Blue Sky program. The base will add the energy generated to its power grid.
Photo By: Cynthia Griggs, Hill Air Force Base
VIRIN: 210625-F-EF974-1004Q

As such, the department's portion of President Joe Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget request makes significant new investments that will make installations and operations more resilient to climate change and increase operational capability, he said. 

"Our climate investments are not only aligned with mission objectives, increasing resiliency and enhancing combat capability, but those investments are absolutely necessary for future mission success," he said. 

Passengers disembark an aircraft in low visibility, heavy snow environment
Antarctic Flight
Passengers exit an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, Sept. 14, 2020. The aircraft and its crew ferried passengers and cargo between New Zealand and Antarctica in support of the 2020-21 Operation Deep Freeze mission.
Photo By: Courtesy Photo, 94th Airlift Wing – Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
VIRIN: 200914-F-XX000-0001Q

Bryan provided an overview of DOD's portion of the budget request related to climate change initiatives: 

  • $2 billion investment for installation resiliency and adaptation, including $550 million for the Energy Resilience and Conservation Improvement Program. 
  • $20 million in contingency preparedness that includes incorporating climate risk scenarios in war games and exercises, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and defense support to civil authorities' activities. 
  • Nearly $250 million in operational energy and buying power to improve the efficiency of operational platforms while increasing their capability and mitigating logistics risk.  
  • More than $800 million in science and technology investments that include hybrid tactical vehicles, to enhance capabilities like extended range and persistence and provide silent watch. It also includes investments in new technologies like blended wing body aircraft, which have the potential to increase range and payload while improving efficiency.  

"These investments … put us in a position to make real progress against our climate and mission objectives," he said.