The Military Gets Climate
Rear Admiral David Titley USN retired (credit: (Wikipedia)
Some years back, I was a participant in quarterly meetings at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), a non-partisan, advisory arm of the US Congress. Our panel was directed to investigate pending and future environmental threats to the US and elsewhere. Other OTA panels evaluated cutting edge advances in healthcare, national security, and computer science as well as food, renewable resources, and environmental matters. While the topic of 'climate change' was little known to the general public then, it came up regularly on the OTA panels that I was a member.
The OTA was a small agency, ~120 person program of project managers and staff, besides the temporary advisory members. Our meetings allowed a few people to attend as observers and listen to the group discussions. With consistent regularity, two US Army majors attended to listen. They took notes and asked to receive copies of our reports when they and had been officially submitted to Congress and published. During coffee breaks we often spoke and the officers asked intelligent questions about the assorted environmental issues of which they knew very little. These Army majors eventually distributed copies of the OTA reports to their commanding officers at the Department of Defense. Those leaders who read them and understood that changing environments could impact their field commanders and operations by what they termed 'force stressors'. The DoD used the OTA findings to establish an Office on Global Climate to plan for effective mitigations and become more resilient to climate change threats. The OGC recently issued a progress report.
The military understands the need to prepare for future challenges before they arise. Retired US Naval officer David Titley teaches at the Center for Climate and Security at Penn State University. He reflects on climate change and how it affects the army, navy, and the other armed forces in a practical, nonpartisan, assessment on preparedness. As Titley says in a prescient TED conference presentation: "The ice doesn't care who's in the White House. It doesn't care which party controls the congress. It doesn't care which party controls your parliament, it just melts". WHB