Extreme weather events cost the Pentagon billions, and it could get worse

Editor’s Note: This article is part of War and Climate Week, a series of stories exploring how the U.S. military is coping with extreme weather, rising sea levels, and global warming of the globe.

On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall along the Gulf Coast of Florida, rapidly changing from a Category 2 hurricane to a Category 5 hurricane. Among the communities in its path was the Air Force Base of Tyndall. The following day, Tyndall’s management announced on the base’s Facebook page that they had suffered a “direct hit”.

Videos watch extensive base damage, destroyed accommodations to aircraft in static screens returned. Several critical structures suffered “catastrophic” damage. Of the 55 F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets then stationed at Tyndall, at least 17 were unable to fly and had to remain at base while the rest of the fleet was shelled out to other bases in the Air Force.

The military then assessed $4.7 billion damage sustained at Tyndall Air Force Base, and it is not the only facility that has suffered catastrophic damage from extreme weather events in recent years.

As far as the Quadrennial Defense Review 2010the Department of Defense has identified climate change as a threat to national security and called for reducing the danger posed to its facilities.

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In unpublished testimony upon his confirmation as Secretary of Defense in 2017, Jim Mattis wrote: ‘I will ensure that the department continues to be ready for operations today and in the future, and that we are prepared to deal with the effects of a changing climate on our threat assessments, resources and preparedness.

While the Navy close its climate change task force in March 2019, which was aimed at preparing the force for rising sea levels, the costs of extreme weather conditions continued to take their toll.

Just a month before Hurricane Michael hit Tyndall Air Force Base, Hurricane Florence made landfall on the east coast, causing storm surges of 9 to 13 feet and dumping 20 to 30 inches of rain. This caused approximately $3.8 billion in damage at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Marine Corps Air Station New River and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. Brigadier General Benjamin Watson, then chief of Marine Corps Installations East, described him as a “punch.”

In March 2019, record flooding along the Missouri River inundated Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, home of US Strategic Command, which oversees the Pentagon’s nuclear strategic deterrence and global strike capabilities. The floodwaters engulfed at least 30 buildings and damaged 30 others, including the headquarters of the 55th Wing, 55th Security Forces Squadron, 97th Intelligence Squadron and 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron. Offutt damage repair estimate increased from $420 million for 800 million dollars and could even reach 1.1 billion dollars.

Other facilities are also at risk.

In 2018, a report by the Center for Climate and Securityinvolving six retired generals and admirals, identified numerous facilities, including Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Camp Pendleton, California, as well as Naval Base Norfolk in Virginia, as particularly vulnerable.

“If significant portions of Hampton Roads infrastructure, including Naval Base Norfolk, were to experience regular flooding, as projected in a number of scenarios for the years 2035-2100,” the report reads, “The impediment to force deployments to critical Atlantic and Mediterranean regions and humanitarian and combat operations in the Pacific War — many of which relate to core U.S. strategic objectives — would be significant.

At the beginning of 2019, the Ministry of Defense published a report on the effects of climate change who identified recurrent floods, drought, desertification, forest fires and permafrost thaw as a primary concern in 79 facilities.

In January 2021, new Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that the The Ministry of Defense would include a climate analysis in the National Defense Strategy. “Climate change is going to cost us resources and preparation,” said Joe Bryan, senior climate adviser at the Pentagon. said in July 2021. “The reality is that it already is.”

The Pentagon released its Climate Adaptation Plan in September 2021, which clearly showed that the problem is getting worse. “Extreme weather events are already costing the Department billions of dollars and degrading mission capabilities,” the report read, adding that “failure to adapt to climate change will have even greater consequences,” failure being measured by the loss of military capabilities and the degradation of infrastructure, among others. consequences.

The report also notes that “the majority of climate hazards are not new; however, climate change alters the frequency, intensity and location of hazards, contributing to vulnerability and increasing risk.

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