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Climate Change: GAO Report Says Global Warming Makes Military Vulnerable

military climate change

Climate change may be making our military “vulnerable” and impacting “readiness” according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. Officials from the GAO recently visited Defense Department sites and what the staffers deemed effect of global warming on the United States Armed Forces capabilities.

Excerpt from the GAO climate change and the military report:

“For example, according to DOD officials, the combination of thawing permafrost, decreasing sea ice, and rising sea levels on the Alaskan coast has increased coastal erosion at several Air Force radar early warning and communication installations. Impacts on DOD’s infrastructure from this erosion have included damaged roads, seawalls and runways. In addition, officials on a Navy installation told GAO that sea level rise and resulting storm surge are the two largest threats to their waterfront infrastructure. For instance, they are concerned about possible storm surge during work on a submarine that will be cut in half while sitting in a dry dock. Officials explained that if salt water floods the submarine’s systems, it could result in severe damage.”

The Government Accountability Office report also stated that flooding at Fort Irwin in California resulted in damage to 160 “facilities.” The Climate Change Adaptation: DOD Can Improve Infrastructure Planning and Processes to Better Account for Potential Impacts report stated that the Department of Defense had already started to assess installation vulnerabilities allegedly caused by climate change. A GAO official noted that the DOD could face limitations to its plans because such projects are “rarely proposed” as military construction ventures and are not fully developed yet.

Another excerpt from the GAO climate change report on the military reads:

“As a result, installation planners may believe that climate change adaptation projects are unlikely to successfully compete with other military construction projects for funding. Without clarification of these processes, DOD may face challenges in meeting its strategic goals and the services may miss opportunities to make their facilities more resilient to the potential impacts of climate change.”

After reviewing its findings, the Government Accountability Office recommended that the Defense Department craft a plan complete with milestones for fully assessing global warming vulnerability issues and then offer more detailed information to military installation planners. Such a plan should also include “clarifying actions” that would be taken for future military construction projects.

The Pentagon has agreed with the GAO global warming recommendations. Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment John Conger said, “We are committed to maintaining the resilience of our installations in support of our mission, our warfighters, and our communities.” Conger went on to say that the Pentagon would further integrate climate change consideration and of the impact of global warming on the “defense enterprise.”

Do you think the GAO climate change report on the military is a step in the right direction or an example of the furtherance of United Nations Agenda 21 measures?

[Image Via: Johnny Dao/Shutterstock.com]

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