Climate change and the US military

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I don’t write about climate change much here, but like many people I think about it a lot. A story in VICE magazine today led me to a study done by staff of the US Army War College in summer 2019, “Implications of Climate Change for the US Army”. It’s available at the following link:

https://climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/implications-of-climate-change-for-us-army_army-war-college_2019.pdf

The points the study makes that are closest to its home are those that relate to the US military collapsing during or even before its attempts to respond to the challenges posed by climate change. It’s obvious that the Army is not an environmentally friendly organization, but there are many things it can do to help itself to survive these challenges.

Let’s take a really basic example: water. Over a third of a force’s sustainment requirement is water. A soldier in an arid environment like the ones where US troops have been fighting for the last 17 years needs about 30 litres of water a day to drink, wash, and prepare food… and the Army has been satisfying this with bottled water shipped from halfway across the world and tapping local wells with sadly depleted aquifers (where these aquifers haven’t been contaminated by salt water from rising sea levels). A Brigade Combat Team does not have its own water generating or purifying equipment, only vehicles and trailers to carry it around. This will have to change and there are technologies under development that will work, but they must be tested, adopted and purchased.

Setting aside the problems a US military force would encounter on arriving at a foreign intervention or entanglement, there would be enough problems at home: the imminent collapse of American infrastructure, from bridges and roads to the power grid (even without the attention of an enterprising enemy) and epidemics of diseases new to the continental US pose serious threats to the Army’s equipment and people. Americans are used to the Army stepping in to help, rescue and restore when natural disasters strike but I think the day is fast approaching when they will not be able to count on this.

Have a look at this.

About brtrain
This blog is mostly devoted to posts, work and resources on "serious" conflict simulation games.

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