5 Ways Climate Change Will Impact The US Military

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Airmen with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pump water from a flooded common living area to an area with less impact on the local population, Dec. 13, 2009 in Southwest Asia.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Sharon Singer

Amid the celebratory mood of the Coast Guard Academy’s commencement ceremony May 20, President Obama told cadets in his keynote speech that they hold a special distinction in America’s maritime history — one that means new dangers and responsibilities.


“You are part of the first generation of officers to begin your service in a world where the effects of climate change are so clearly upon us,” Obama said. On a deceptively beautiful day on the New London, Connecticut, campus, the president went on to highlight several ways global climate change will impact America’s military in the coming years.

“I’m here to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to national security,” Obama told the graduates. “And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country, so we need to act and we need to act now.”

From melting Arctic ice to more severe storms and longer wildfires, here are several effects these changes will have on national and global security.

1. More humanitarian missions around the world.

Obama cautioned that climate change is resulting in more severe storms globally, which will increase the frequency that America’s military will need to respond to disaster areas with significant humanitarian relief. The president referred to the ferocious November 2013 Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines, killing 6,000 people and impacting 14 million, according to UNICEF.

“No single weather event can be blamed solely on climate change, but Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines gave us a possible glimpse of things to come,” Obama said. “One of the worst cyclones ever recorded, thousands killed, many more displaced, billions of dollars in damage, and a massive international relief effort that included the United States military and its Coast Guard.”

2. More disaster response missions at home.

The reason Superstorm Sandy left so much of lower Manhattan under water in 2012 is because the sea level in New York Harbor is a foot higher than it was a century ago, the president explained. “During Sandy, the Coast Guard mounted a heroic response along with our National Guard and Reserve, but rising seas and strong storms will mean more disaster response missions,” Obama said.

3. A threat to the readiness of military forces.

“Climate change poses a threat to the readiness of our forces,” the president said. “Many of our military installations are on the coast, including of course our Coast Guard stations. Around Norfolk high tides and storms increasingly flood parts of our Navy base and an air base. In Alaska, thawing permafrost is damaging military facilities. Out west deeper droughts and longer wildfires can threaten training areas our troops depend on.”

Given these effects, Obama continued, politicians who insist they care about military readiness should also be paying closer attention to the problem of climate change. Just as it is the military’s duty to protect civilian populations, the military should strengthen the infrastructure of its own bases and natural barriers to withstand the elements.

4. More competition for resources.

Rapidly melting sea ice is changing the landscape of the Arctic and its coastline, and creating access to new areas of resources, Obama warned. “We’re witnessing the birth of a new ocean, new sea lanes, more shipping, more exploration, more competition for the vast natural resources below it,” he said.

5. Greater likelihood for civil strife.

As rising sea levels flood low-lying land and more severe droughts worsen food and water shortages, the world can expect a rise in migrating refugees, helping lead to new tensions.

“Around the world climate change increases the risk of instability and conflict,” Obama said. For instance, the terrorist group Boko Haram has exploited Nigeria’s severe drought to wrest control of the country’s northeast, Obama explained. In Syria, similar conditions leading to crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the initial unrest that gave way to civil war.

(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

Three U.S. service members received non-life-threatening injuries after being fired on Monday by an Afghan police officer, a U.S. official confirmed.

The troops were part of a convoy in Kandahar province that came under attack by a member of the Afghan Civil Order Police, a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support said on Monday.

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Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years during the height of the Vietnam War. Now, more than 45 years after his release, Sig Sauer is paying tribute to his service with a special gift.

Sig Sauer on Friday unveiled a unique 1911 pistol engraved with Anzaldua's name, the details of his imprisonment in Vietnam, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" accompanied by the POW-MIA flag on the grip to commemorate POW-MIA Recognition Day.

The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty

Marine Maj. Jose Anzaldua's commemorative 1911 pistol

(Sig Sauer)

Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.

Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:

Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.

In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.

On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.

Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.

After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.

Sig Sauer presented the commemorative 1911 pistol to Anzaldua in a private ceremony at the gunmaker's headquarters in Newington, New Hampshire. The pistol's unique features include:

  • 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
  • Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
  • Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
  • Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
  • Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.

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Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Super Hercules and one Marine onboard an F/A-18D Hornet were killed in the Dec. 6, 2018 collision that took place about 200 miles off the Japanese coast. Another Marine aviator who was in the Hornet survived.

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A former Army soldier was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday for stealing weapons from Fort Bliss, along with other charges.

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(U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.

Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.

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