Department of Defense Report Details Effects of Climate Change on Military Operations

Jan 25, 2019

The Department of Defense (DoD) recently released a new report discussing the risk of climate change on military installations located around the world. The report calls climate change a “national security issue” that has the potential to severely disrupt Department of Defense missions, installations and strategic operational plans. As climate change continues to progress, DoD needs to take these changes into consideration when developing future strategies and looking to bolster its resilience. The report notes that “DoD must be able to adapt current and future operations to address the impacts of a variety of threats and conditions, including those from weather and natural events.”

From an operational standpoint, the report explains that climate change has the potential to impact DoD operations in two major ways:

  • Changes in the manner in which DoD maintains readiness and provides support
  • Changes to what DoD may be asked to support.

More specifically, climate change has altered and increased the mode and frequency at which DoD has had to make repairs and conduct maintenance on infrastructure and equipment. This includes repairs to infrastructure following hurricanes, wildfires and rising seawaters that have damaged both domestic and foreign installations. Cold weather activities in the arctic have also been affected through permafrost thawing.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dunford is quoted in the report noting that "When I look at climate change, it's in the category of sources of conflict around the world and things we'd have to respond to. So it can be great devastation requiring humanitarian assistance — disaster relief — which the U.S. military certainly conducts routinely.”

Beyond describing how climate change has affected operations, the report also describes efforts DoD is taking the mitigate these changes moving forward. This includes efforts such as increasing installation resiliency and developing a better understanding of coastal erosion raters and natural flood protection infrastructure.

To view the report in full, click here: https://media.defense.gov/2019/Jan/18/2002081124/-1/-1/1/FINAL-CLIMATE-REPORT.PDF

*Editor’s Note: At the time of publishing, the report appears to have been taken down.