tv Discussion Focuses on National Security Implications of Climate Change CSPAN June 6, 2017 5:36am-7:01am EDT
live coverage begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span, c-span.org, and our free c-span radio app. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] secretary on the hill today to discuss her .epartments 2018 budget request live coverage of the testimony before a senate appropriations subcommittee begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span three. ♪ >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. a 1979, c-span was created as public service fight america's cable television companies. it is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. ♪ next, a look at the relationship between climate change and u.s. national security, retired military
commanders spoke about operational planning and budgeting for missions and future force structure. this 90 minute event was hosted by the environmental and energy study institute. >> good afternoon, everyone. i am the director of the environmental and energy study institute. i am delighted to welcome you to the briefing on the national security implications of climate change. briefingnored for this to happen and at this very timely point in time. as we look at these important issues. i want to express my gratitude
and enthusiasm for the partnership that we have in terms of bringing in this briefing through the partnership with the henry m jackson foundation, as well as the center for climate and security. i wanted to be sure and mention that we are joined by some members from the henry m jackson foundation today, including the president of the jackson foundation board as well as laura, the foundation's executive director. thank you very, very much for your support and your long understanding and visionary approach to this important issue and in carrying out the legacy who --tor scoop jackson for whom the foundation was set up to continue his unfinished
work in the areas in which he for so long played a key leadership role. while he was in the congress and especially in the senate where he chaired the senate natural resources committee and where he took an important leadership role in regard to international affairs, education, human rights, environment and natural resources management and importantly, the whole role of public service. we are very, very grateful to the jackson foundation and very grateful to the center for climate and security with whom we are partnering in regard to this briefing. we are going to be hearing from a number of people who have a long history and who have given much, much thought to this important issue of climate, what does this mean for national security, what are the angles that need to be thought about
, and to start the briefing, i want to introduce colonel tom watson, the director of government affairs for the center for climate and security. [applause] >> thank you very much. the center for climate and security is delighted to coast -- cosponsor this event today. thanks to our esi partners for your hard work in putting this together. i would like to thank each and every one of you for joining us today. this is a briefing to discuss the role of climate change as a threat multiplier in the geopolitical landscape and the implications it has for national security. this briefing will explore the risk management and planning considerations facing the department of defense as it seeks to maintain force readiness and bolster
infrastructure resilience. we think you will find today's panel timely and informative on this important issue. the center is a nonpartisan security and foreign policy institute with a distinguished advisory board of nationally recognized military, security, and foreign-policy experts. some of whom are here today as part of our panel. the center for climate and security envisions a climate resilient security landscape. to further the goal, the center facilitates policy development processes and dialogs like today's panel, as well as providing analysis, conducting research, and acting as a resource hub in the climate and security field. it is now my pleasure to introduce the moderator for today's event, the honorable john conger, a member of the center advisory for security advisory board and is a consultant for the independent
strategies llc and nonresident senior advisor at the center for strategy and international studies. he served as the principal deputy under secretary of defense comptroller we provided advice to the secretary of defense on budgetary and financial matters. he has overseen energy, installation, and environmental policy throughout the dod, the assistant secretary of defense for energy, installation and environment. he served as the undersecretary of defense for installations and the environment and the assistant undersecretary for assistant deputy for the environment. he has served as a staff member a congress, including professional staff of the house international relations committee. prior to that, he was employed in the private sector as an aerospace engineer and defense analyst, supporting the office of secretary of defense. he has multiple degrees from m.i.t. and a masters from george washington university. ladies and gentlemen, it's my
pleasure to introduce the moderator for today, mr. john conger. sir, the podium is yours. [applause] >> how are we doing today? good? it's a little warm. we are going to keep the door open so the airflow is ok, but we are going to get background noise. that's the trade-off you are all going to have. thank you for being here for what i hope is going to be a pretty enlightening discussion. you heard the reference to how timely this was. i want to thank president trump for making news last week on this topic. we did not plan that in advance. but nonetheless, as we go forward with the change in administration, from president obama to president trump, the apparent changes in opinion on climate change, we cannot help
but wonder whether this topic is still one the dod is going to care about. whether this was politics at the beginning or whether it is a national security issue that drives dod interest and the impacts of climate change. i will quote secretary mattis, he said i agreed that the increased maritime access to the arctic, rising sea levels, impacts our security situation. i will ensure the department continues to be prepared to conduct operations today and in the future and we are prepared to address a changing climate on our threat assessment resources and readiness. that is the bottom line. the dod will adapt to changes in the climate and carry out its mission. the dod knows what they are doing and they will be measured in response to this risk. there is a lot you can do to mitigate risk once you
acknowledge it exists. we have experts, each of whom is a member of the board of advisors and each of whom are uniquely qualified to address these points. they will talk about why dod cares about climate change, how it affects the mission, and the ability to carry out the mission today and in the future. i'm going to introduce everybody and call on them to make opening comments. then we will do questions and answers. i'm going to ask the panelists talk about any facet of the problem that they wish, but to include in their thoughts one starting question to blend in with their intro. in the absence of politics, how would dod approach this issue? setting aside the focus by president obama and the shift of focus from president trump, that is sort of an entry-level thought. i'm going to introduce everyone all at once and pass it to them to make comments.
immediately to my left is sherri goodman, a member of our advisory board and senior fellow with the wilson center. prior to this, she was ceo and president of the ocean leadership consortium and counsel for the senate -- for center of analysis. before that in the pentagon she was the deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security and few people have done more at the nexus of climate and security, starting with the national security and threat of climate change report in 2007. to her left, general ron keys is on the climate and securities advisory board and chairman of -- the board that put out the study i just referenced. he authored a report on the mission issued by the center and there should be copies on the front table. general keyes is a retired four-star general from the air
force. he retired in 2007 after completing a career of more than 40 years. he is a command pilot was more than 4000 hours in fighter aircraft and 300 hours of combat time. he has seen climate challenges around the world and confronting challenges at joint base langley here at home. the next guess is a professor of engineering at maryland focusing on water resources and disaster management and is a fellow at the texas a&m hagler institute for advanced studies working on urban flooding in the united states. he joined the faculty of you university of maryland after he retired as regular general and served in the federal government. he is a former dean of the
faculty and academic programs at the industrial college of the armed forces and former dean of the academic board at the u.s. military academy at west point where he was a professor of jockey and the first head of the department of geography. she is a member of the center and previously a 31 year career in the u.s. navy. she commanded destroyer squadron 28 and expeditionary striker of two and was a member of the navy climate change and energy task forces. after retirement, she chaired a group for a sea level rise preparedness and resilience in a planning project for the government. thank you for being here and i will turn it over to you for opening comments. >> thank you. it is great to be here with all of you today.
thank you to the jackson foundation, the rockefeller and eesi for organizing this. many of you look around for carol and can or when we could hardly fill a room on this subject, let alone standing room only. 30 years ago, i was the youngest and only female staff member on the senate armed services committee. at a time when senator jackson still served in the senate, i worked for senator nunn who had just become chairman in the armed services committee. senator john warner of virginia was the ranking republican. there were many days and many times when there was absolutely no difference between democrats and republicans on the issues we worked.
i come to speak to you about this subject from a long, bipartisan tradition that has been the hallmark of national security policymaking and practice in this country. that has been around for decades and which i think is incredibly important to the subject and many others in national security that we face today because we are living in a time that is highly polarized. 30 years ago, what was more common was the armed services committee, they could barely spell the word environment. that was not my portfolio at all. as most of my colleagues here who are old enough like me, i was more like the age of many of you in the audience at that time and we were working on things
like nuclear weapons and arms control. military readiness, all of these issues are still very important. in the early post cold war time, we began to understand the practices of the industrial age that had led to environmental challenges. and so the armed services committees, both sides of the aisle, republicans and democrats , created in the defense department something that still endures today, called the strategic environmental research and develop program. which took research and a science capability -- this is very important. a sort of underlying factor here that science, research, technology development is a core component of everything we do. everything that happens in
national security undergirds our understanding of national security. in national security, you start with -- what are your threats? in the nuclear age, we understood the nuclear threat. we spent millions of dollars of america's gdp to defend and the terror what we considered -- deter what we considered to be highest consequences but low probability threat of an out of the blue strike from the soviet union. now with the climate age, we in climate change, arguably, an equally high consequence and higher probability threat, we think of it in terms of risk. what are the risks? we plan and program and budget accordingly to reduce those risks to our forces in operating around the world.
now, when we look around the world today, we see there are many threats. of course, terrorism right on our doorstep almost every day. russia, rising china, and among those threats is climate change. the environmental consideration within defense has always been a bipartisan consideration, dating back 30 years ago from what i mentioned starting with considerations of how to address environmental problems during the cold war and early post cold war period. there were a number of programs which generals and admirals here were responsible for administrating during their time in dod, to clean up military devices or comply with environmental law. as new challenges emerge, we
approach each one in its own right. in the last two decades, it has become very clear that climate change is one of those significant threats to america's national security. that is why, 10 years ago this year, when i was at cna, we formed the military advisory board that general keyes now chairs and general galway serves on an admiral phillips is associated with, that many other leading generals and admirals me -- in the armed services have been associated with. to understand what are the national security objectives -- we have characterized this as a threat multiplier for instability in fragile regions of the world. we see it. we see how the geostrategic posture is affected by climate change. just take the arctic. we have a whole new ocean that has been created and opened up within the last decade as a
result of the melting, rapid melting of sea ice in the arctic. now we have to have more capability to operate in the arctic in ways we did not need to do a quarter-century ago. we see a potential rush for resources as there is more access to them and opportunities for additional fishing, navigation, transport, tourism that bring opportunities but also risk. that's an important way climate change is changing our world and changing how we have to position our armed forces. to address that, as well as other capabilities. important, extreme weather events.
we have seen weather events of various types around the world. we now have to position our forces to be able to respond to increased typhoons, increased extreme weather events, storms, that are creating new risks, particularly in the asia-pacific, which some might call disaster alley of that region. where there are extreme risks and combined with the urbanization we see with the largest cities in the world and people living at very low lying areas come everywhere from anglo --to the philippines bangladesh to the philippines that are increasing risk when there is an extreme storm or sealevel rise.
thirdly, and i want to leave some time here for my fellow panelists. we see that it is affecting our military posture at home, our installations are at risk along the atlantic coast due to a combination of sea rise in storm surge and coastal erosion. that is not a partisan issue. that is affecting us wherever our coastal military installations are located. if we want to continue to operate, we need to address the infrastructure. today is the day the administration is talking about infrastructure. we have a lot of infrastructure at military bases that need to be hardened and secured against rising seas and extreme weather events. much of this connects with the communities. wherever our military bases are, they are part of the community
and that brings us into building more resilient communities to addressing these risks because bases are part of the community. in norfolk, where people cannot get to the base because of nuisance flooding that occurs on a regular basis, that is a risk for our military and the community. we see these extreme weather events, storm surge, increased drought. we know underlying drought was a source of conflict and a source of instability leading to the conflicts in syria and the arab spring uprising. that has been well documented by other scholars that we need to better understand how prolonged
drought is going to be a source of instability and conflict in the future as the world experiences more water stress and water scarcity, some of it aggravated by climate change and water mismanagement. these are all nonpartisan, bipartisan issues that require us to harness the capabilities across a range of government agencies. i know many of you
-- we can't all be working on the armed services committee, so you are working on committees that span a number of budgets and jurisdictions. the research done across number of agencies, including the department of defense and apartment of energy, it's all important as well as moving our nation forward. we have always been leaders in the next wave of energy innovation. we have that opportunity now while caring for those who have to make the transition from fossil energy into new forms of energy as we make our country and world more secure, staying at the forefront of that curve is going to be increasingly important. we have the ability to do that and we are doing it already today, particularly in the department of defense as we figure out how to power the force for the future, looking at micro-grids to wind and solar to power our forward operating bases so they can be more resilient and operate more securely. >> general? >> ok, so having said all of that, let me answer the question.
if this were not political, what would we be doing? we would be enjoying a renaissance of much less oversight. that causes us problems. number two, we would have more money to work some of these issues. the real question is why does the dod care about this at all? even though we live in the communities, we are normal people who just happen to wear uniforms in our profession. we are not necessarily known as tree huggers and environmentalists, but the reason we care is three things that we focus on in the military. the first is mission effectiveness -- the ability to go and do what we have to do. we go and fight america's wars when she calls us to do so and we win those wars. we have to be able to base, train, mobilize, operate, reach
back. we have to do all of those things in the face of everything that could happen, whether someone walks out and cuts a wire or throws a satchel over a fence or whether a flood comes in or sea levels rise. we need to do that, so it is mission effectiveness. the second thing we focus on his -- is battle space awareness. this, i think somehow confuses people and we are not focused on climate change or renewable energy because we have put it all together. we don't break out each threat individually and put it in its own program element. we look at what are the threats and impacts to our ability to operate. that is battle space awareness applied to where we train like we do in combat. will we have enough water? will he have enough fuel? will our convoys be exposed? do we have a problem in certain areas because of dust?
gritty dust? disease? we focus on those from an intellectual and intelligence focus to make sure we know what are the threats? the third thing is survived to operate. in our line of work, we know we're going to get hit. and when we get hit, we're going to have to still operate. it was a term that we coined back in the day when we were concerned about chemical warfare. we had to suit up in your phase four suit, put on your mask and hope you did not pass out from heat restoration. we were going to continue to fly airplanes and fight. you go back to the first gulf war, you can see the pictures of people walking around in these suits. "survive to operate."
so, we have to look at are there things that are going to prevent us from survived to operate? are they going to cut off our roads or runways? are the wildfires going to knock down the grid and we won't get our electricity? on and on. those are the things we look at. mission effectiveness, battle space awareness, and being able to survive to operate. what are the effects? here are some of the problems we have -- the first problem is just training. the fire season has gotten longer. we have people on the fire line. you don't want to put people on the fire line unless they are trained to be on the fire line. that is dangerous business. if they are training to be on the fire line, they are not trained to be whatever they are in the army, navy, marines, coast guard. if we are going to do more swiftwater rescue, that is hand eye coordination.
you have to know what you are doing there or you will be swept away, too. as we look at the changes in climate, we have airplanes that spray for vectors of disease, mosquitoes and things like that. are we going to have more of those airplanes? we have planes of the mobile airborne firefighting system in colorado. do we need more of those airplanes? are they going to be engaged in that much longer? do we need more hurricane hunters? birds?eed more of those crews?eed more of those it is a balloon. we don't think we are going to get that any people and that many more dollars.
if we are going to do these kinds of things, we are going to have to make some hard choices. the other issue that you have is when you are doing these kinds of things, you can be so involved -- supposing we had a major wildfire where we had our national guard who is primary in these kinds of reactions and someone decides to do something in north korea or afghanistan -- name some of the dark, dusty and dangerous places around the world. you have your force all split up and people think about when we talk about humanitarian crises and things like that, we tend to think about over there. we are probably fast approaching the day when it's going to be here. if you go out sometime when you are taking a trip, go and see the west.oks like in garcia or langley airforce base.
seven feet above sea level. it's a jewel in our crown we have analyzed that it doesn't have to grow three feet in tidal depth. if the wind comes in, we've got a lot of water and you start to inundate. i was there in 1984 commanding a fighter squadron and we had four or five hurricanes come through. we took a little damage, but we changed a few things and we were good to go. i went back in 2005 as a commander of air combat command and we had one nor'easter come through, just a plain, ordinary nor'easter and about three or four feet of water on the main road outside my quarters. we had people scramble to clean grates and pump water because in that amount of time, things had gotten that much worse. when you get a smaller storm
starting from a higher base. those are the kinds of things we look at -- how bad could it be? this is the analysis we do. you look at where you are and go what could happen? how bad could it be? could we stand that? in some cases, we are going to grit our teas. -- grit our teeth. beean, we are trained to able to stand that. we trained to do that. but if it is so bad we can't stand it, how much would it cost to move it back to something we could stand and what technologically would we have to know to do that and when do we start doing that technology so that it is ready to implement when we get to the point we have to have it? it's a matter of how bad can it be question mark can we stand it, is an affordable and accessible for us to actually change it? you go back to that analysis and go what if we are wrong?
what if it doesn't get that bad? how much money will we have pumped into these things we are planning on doing and then find out we really didn't need to do that? where is the offramp? our mission effectiveness is up and our battle space awareness, it helps us survive to operate. that is the reason the military cares. because it's our job to be ready and to be able to mobilize and deploy. when you call us on the phone, you expect someone to pick up at the other end. some people say can you give an example of where a disaster has happened? not really. not yet. that's the whole point of this. i don't want to be standing ass deep next to a tall shrimper and
you saying, hey we want your choppers to come rescue us. i say i would like to do this but they are up to the skids in water themselves. that's the kind of planning we are doing to operate. just to close with -- that is here in the u.s.. it's a catalyst for conflict. some places are not going to have as much water. they are not going to grow as much food. there's a humanitarian crisis, a huge migration at some point, we are probably going to get called to go help. or, there may be too much water. i've been involved as a director of ops in the yukon and in zimbabwe, they had floods cover the whole country. if those become more likely, we have to respond to those things. those are the kinds of things, not only are we getting more work inside the united states,
but we are going to get more work outside the united states. so it's a matter of competing priorities. where do you want me to go and where do you want me to be and how do you want me to train? if you go to the ccs website, there's a long list of things. go back to 2003 and a first official look at what is climate change going to do to us. in 1994, i was commanding eielson air force base and we were doing search and rescue exercises with russia, canada and the u.s. back then, we were talking about when these lanes start to open up, we have a lot more shipping
through there and we need to have that are me occasions and better cooperation. we have seen this coming for a long time. it has been painfully slow to start the focus and flow the money. thank you. >> thank you. it is interesting -- you ask the question what would it be like if politics weren't here?i say the military would be doing the exact same thing they are doing right now. if you go back to older field manuals, what are the most significant aspects of battlefield combat, whether it's the runways at have to be open for the open seas were the hill you are going to climb, when they are in change, the military is concerned about that. the military has long had an
interest in doing things like that and forecasting what might happen. during world war ii, as you may recall in the news, we had to cross the rhine river. we had to secure a bridge which became a famous movie. when all that activity went on, they were getting ready for this dash into germany. a large number of climatologists andmeteorologists intelligence people together determine what the germans might do and what nature might do to make the rhine river go into flood? is critical to a general eisenhower was planning to understand what would happen on the ground and that is what we see in so many ways when we deal with moving forces overseas. will we be able to carry out the military operation? we are very interested and the dod, all services care about being ready so if you expect us to go, we've got to be able to deliver on that. i'm an engineer, so i have done some strategy and worked around what's going to happen to be the threat multiplier and the challenges in bangladesh, singapore or elsewhere where
people are rushing to the cities and under climate change, we might have significant problems dealing with these. in singapore, the sea level is rising and they are dealing with them because they have to plan 20, 30, 40 years out. other countries will become significant challenges. are we ready is the real question. there are three things i would talk about quickly. one is the entire issue of training. training is at the heart of what the military does. if our bases are not capable of providing the platform for the training we need, we are not going to be as ready as we should be. we've already seen the
challenges going back to the red woodpecker that stopped training in many areas. for various animals on the endangered species list, as the temperature rises with climate change, it will cause major significant movements and where we have to deal with these sort of issues and we have to address them. that is the way we do. our country is responsive to that. what's the temperature going to do to our ability for troops to train? when the temperature gets above a certain level, we shut it down. all of those things have to be taken into account. how do we test the equipment for the future? we have to test the acquisition material we need. the trucks that we use and combat vehicles, the ships and planes all have to be prepared to operate in this different environment. withperience in vietnam
dust was terrible. our helicopters are wonderful but you put them down consistently in dust as you do in iraq or afghanistan, you create severe problems. if you are operating environments where temperatures are very different when you plan to operate there, you cannot get the helicopters to go to certain elevations and make your operation move smoothly. we have to think about what equipment we will require in the future and how will we test it? do you want us to be ready? we cannot operate with the last war's equipment when the world around you is changing. it is important the world consider what is on the horizon and what are we going to do about that horizon? if we have to land in the pacific, we have had a look and
sherry mentioned the issue of operating on islands. as sea level rises, subsidence occurs. can we still land where we used to be able to land and will our vessels when the seas are more intense be able to move ashore? we have to think through all of these and you would expect them to do that. that is why this kind of thinking is going on at the highest levels all the time. it only when there is interference in the thinking, when people say don't think this way, that the military begins to push back and say no, we have to be ready for these eventualities. it is terribly important we do that. the last one is interesting because we don't hardly think of it. we don't just live on military installations. we get supplies from all over the world. in 2011, the area north of bangkok, thailand, an area of great industrial power where they were manufacturing all sorts of systems being used, we discovered later, if that area is under water, we cannot get the supplies for just in time manufacturing. we have to be aware of those things. you may recall was flooding in south carolina.
interstate 95 was shut down for a week for about 30 miles. you can't move large amounts of material when the roads are underwater. are we prepared for that? our military installations have ties to the communities, whether it's the power, the water or the roads. are they working together to get us to the right approach when the time comes that we have one of these major events? you have seen the thousand year floods and disastrous storms we have on our coasts. we have to be ready for those in that is what the military is trying to do, to look ahead to see what we are dealing with and can we be ready for the future? can we, in our installations, do it in coordination with our civilian neighbors? in our gulf and east coast communities, we found there are interesting challenges and every one of them because we have
military personnel that have to get on post and we have workers that man key installation facilities that we need to have get to the post. we need them to support what we are doing and we need to support what they are doing as we adaptively deal with climate change. that doesn't mean we are going to build a wall or build levees or build breakwaters. we are going to find new ways to do it. the militaries at the forefront of these challenges. we are not going to be any different whether there's politics or not because the military is focused on having a military that is ready to move. we have to think through the hazards we are going to face and the risks created by this hazards. i will stop at that. >> good afternoon, everyone and thank you for your kind introduction and thanks to all of you for tolerating a tight
room. we are glad to see such tremendous response. i'm a surface warfare officer. i drove ships for 31 years and like my military peers, i'm a military operator. i'm trained to view a mission in strategic, operational and tactical terms. do what is required with clear eyed pragmatism to execute that mission. i do not do it with any sort of political focus whatsoever. i know how to do the job. dod has a long history of taking climate seriously because they intensify operational risk as other panelist mentioned this afternoon. this is a real threat. it is not an imagined threat or political agenda. we have an inherent responsibility to prepare to execute our mission. that responsibility drives
serious consideration for climate change because we are seeing more and more of the impacts in our daily lives as we execute our mission and prepare for it here at home and operate overseas. finally, climate change requires a whole government approach and the defense community needs the opportunity to execute as general keys implied. without a constant shifting of perspectives, words, strategies, impediments to execute its mission, we know what we need to do and we know what we are faced with. allow us to plan, evaluate risk and prepare and operate. we have a national security mission to fill. the challenge with our coastal military operations, nowhere more so than hampton roads, where i live. hampton roads is a region on the front line of climate impact right now. we are experiencing sea level rise at twice the rate of other
east coast locations, second only to new orleans in the degree of change we are seeing. we are dealing with things unique to the hampton roads area. it's a growing threat not only to regional readiness but national military readiness. why? because there are almost 29 separate federal entities in the hampton roads region spread across nearly 100 distinct facilities. the largest is the department of defense facilities and two thirds of those our navy facilities. including naval station norfolk, arguably the largest naval station in the world. one of only two submarine construction facilities in the country. army and training document command, logistics bases, key facilities for those commands, the largest nato command outside
of europe. the largest in norfolk virginia, jefferson labs, langley and we are the fourth largest commercial port on the east coast, gateway to the chesapeake bay which helps to not only support the economy of the country and virginia at the military facilities in virginia. 45% of our regional economic development is based on the presence of federal facilities as well as critical infrastructure. impacts the whole beauty. the whole region is impacted by what is affected here and its ability to support the military. 65% of the 1.7 million people who live in hampton roads'17 cities and mentalities travel to municipalities travel to
another city to work. it has to be done across the region. i often encounter people who can't wait to tell me about their experience with water. i will share a few with you. a nato colonel and his wife -- as soon as she found out i worked on sea level rise, she could not wait to spend the next 30 minutes telling me about life in hampton roads dealing with water. she had to drive a four-wheel drive vehicle and think about what the storms and tides were going to be to get in and out of her community. she had to learn different ways to get to where she was going to go just to get to the store and execute her daily life in the hampton roads region. there are people i know in virginia beach whou have to decide what vehicle to take to work and when they are going to leave based on the tide cycle. this used to be only limited to storms.
now it can happen anytime if the wind is blowing the right way, we have sunny day flooding, you have to change your plans and operate differently. i know a retired military couple who live and have to talk about the constant flooding that makes it difficult to get in and out of their home, even though it does not impact their house. people change their lives every day in hampton roads just to be able to execute whatever it is they need to do. many of those people are involved in supporting the military in some way, shape, or form. families of the stationed in the region. in discussing the national security implications, you can
see hampton roads is a crucible for the entire range of change for dod facilities and the fact we are dealing with water and places we don't want, need, or expected on an ever more routine basis. we are dealing with challenges at the present and no we will have to deal with them in the future. in that context, the department of defense has an inherent responsibility to prepare and they take it seriously. they have to have the ability to share data in an open manner so that we can plan regionally to not only support our regional and local missions but execute our national security strategy. thank you. >> i'm going to sum up the answer to the question i've opposed, which is what amount of this is politics and what about what happen regardless of politics? it sounds like dod would have to pay attention regardless of politics and they are going to regardless of politics. there are two main categories i heard discussed. one is on mission and the other is on infrastructure. let's do a couple of questions on each one. let's start with mission. if we go back to the quote where
" i agree that the changing climate can impact our situation," maybe if we can have a couple of comments about things going on today that are exacerbated by climate so that our folks in the field have to pay attention to what is going on with regard to a changing climate, sea levels, etc. that affect preparation for their job and what they have to train for in the field today. i know there's a lot of discussion on syria and whether drought has exacerbated the situation. how could that change our future mission profile as the ice melts there?
does anyone want to focus on that piece of the puzzle? >> i think the easy one, if there is an easy one is the arctic. we know what the problems are. as the arctic opens up, we have more people of their and you have more opportunity for mischief, accidents, etc. when you go north, we don't have a good picture of the north like we do on most of the rest of the globe. having those kinds of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance assets of their so you know what is going on, so the coast guard can see what is happening. second thing, communications are bad at the top of the world. make sure you have the capabilities so when something does happen, someone gets notified so that someone can go fix stuff. what will we have to do when you can no longer walk across the north whole but can sail across the north pole? that makes the difference. i think jerry can talk better about this than i can, but it is
just a matter of water. if people don't have enough water, when you send your troops, they are not going to quickly dig a well and find water. how do you make water or reclaim water and make sure the water is pure enough to use? do you go when with pallets of plastic bottles were canteens? do you have the water buffaloes, the big apparatus we use to move water around? can you use desalination or other systems we have to actually reclaim water? that is an issue as we get into some of these areas. in other areas, from an air force standpoint, we have looked at the issue of where can we base? is the base tenable? you have to have a long piece of concrete to get in and operate, otherwise you are operating at great range. in some cases, they may be under water and in other cases, it may be too dry. those are the things we are looking at from an air force
standpoint. >> just to add on what general keys has mentioned, in the arctic, the permafrost is shrinking very rapidly now. to the point we are looking at having to relocate a number of arctic villages, alaskan villages because of a combination of sinking permafrost, coastal erosion, and rising seas. in addition, there's new opportunities for energy exploration, which is going to bring risk and potential reward. we will see operation -- the u.s. and russia are only 30 miles apart at their closest point in the bering strait.
until recent years, that was navigable only for a very reef -- brief time in the year and was used primarily to refuel and restock villages at the top of the world. we saw last year a chinese lng tanker make the trip across the russian northwest passage and down the bering strait. i think this is just the beginning of what will be much more ship traffic in that area for a variety of reasons. last year there was a multi-thousand passenger cruise ship that sailed without incident throughout the canadian
northwest passage and in the u.s. and american arctic and is planning to travel again this summer. in my view, it's only going to be a matter of time before there some incident that requires a significant search-and-rescue or oil spill response. our coast guard, along with associated military guard and other forces are already planning and preparing for such eventualities. as a result, we're looking at not only buying new icebreakers, but additional types of communication, maritime domain awareness capabilities, potentially deep water ports up in that region, which the u.s. has never had. this region of the world is changing more rapidly than anywhere else on the planet now. it is putting the u.s. and other nations and not only arctic nations, because countries from china to singapore to spain
see new opportunities to obtain the energy, the fish, the tourism or other opportunities that will be in that region. that will bring significant risk which we are not really prepared to address and that is forcing us to shift how we look at those priorities compared to other places. we need to have force available throughout the world. >> that is the overview on mission and we can get two more questions on that in a minute. clearly, dod needs to plan in advance for missions they have to fulfill and there will be new missions they have to think about. from a fixed infrastructure
perspective, we're in a given location the world is changing around us and it's going to affect things that we can't move easily. general keys and general galway, you recently finished a report on sea-level rise. could you summarize the findings of the report briefly? >> i would say the challenge we identified is we are seeing coastal erosion. we are seeing the sea-level rise and a challenge of increased numbers of large storms that are causing problems. if you happen to be in a place like norfolk where there is subsidence, the water is rising and land is going down, you create all sorts of problems. there is the physical issue of how do you deal with that and the defense structure, the army corps of engineers and other
agencies are looking at are there ways besides putting concrete out to deal with that because it's expensive and may not last long. that is a challenge. the other challenge is to recognize this will be phased over time. consider what the risks are and develop plan that says i'm going to get to this step would be prepared for change as these conditions can change in these coastal areas. what is of interest to me is not just our infrastructure that we are worried about, we are worried about the infrastructure of our partner nations. we have hundreds of bases overseas where we rely on someone else to give us the support or expect them to handle their particular problems and we will come into back them up. when they have the same problems on the coastal areas, you create even more problems. the challenge becomes one of we have these bases and need to do something about them. will we develop a plan that lets us get here and have them remain
as they are needed? that's going to take a lot of planning and resources to do that. we have to have a program and developing the strategy is going to be critical. >> admiral, you recently chaired a working group on the intergovernmental relationship when you have sea level rising near hampton roads. how do the bases deal with the answer out these? can you talk about how the subsidence issues driving requirements?
what do folks need to communicate with each other? hampton roads is likely front line of this issue, but there are other places where needed out these need to talk to the bases and have on other issues for a long time. what kinds of things need to be going back and forth in communication between those two? >> i think the first thing is understanding common standards. for example, if the defense department is going to plan to adapt to sea level rise implications in the hampton roads region in the next 40 or 50 years, what are they using doeske those plans and how what theare whith with thosedoing plans? we could miss dependencies and interdependencies where we find
in constructor, roads, highways, utilities will need to be upgraded waste on one set of circumstances, but if the city is using a lower scenario, meaning there won't be as much water at the same time, then they won't be prepared and they won't be ready. so shared common standards is important. even though there are many opportunities for the federal facilities and local communities to engage with each other, we found there were not a lot of actually structured ways in which that takes place. there don't appear to be a lot of detailed planning, infrastructure updates, meetings, memorandums of understanding for that will be sharing information with each other on a routine basis. that was kind of puzzling and we had in our working group, just by chance, the storm water engineers from little creek, the cities of norfolk and virginia beach which surround that area, actually never met.
during the course of the working group, when they were all in the room together, they were able to meet and share data that they had wanted from each other for 20 years, but they cannot figure out how to get it. the challenges that 20 years ago the need was not what it is today. now that there is a greater need, there is a greater interest in more established, more routine policies, plans, and procedures, so that the cities and the federal can share and plan together. the other challenge is budget. the federal government budget does not align with the state budget. the challenge of making those things spent together to be a plan and execute things were joint coordination is required, that is difficult. the last thing i would say is, you look at the way we deal with flood planning in this country, flood insurance map system and the way we determine what is critical infrastructure, not all of that is based on historical data.
we have to change how we think about it in the future. we are planning fifty years into the future. say, let'sant to build it three feet above elevation that we had today. that is a paradigm shift in the way we think and plan. very little flood planning, and by the way, it does not just go up, it goes out. considers future predictions, and until we figure out, and this is not just a federal, dod issue, this is an everybody issue, how to prepare for that. we will be challenged to plan appropriately and collaborate on planning. what makes hampton roads so interesting is there are so many cities in so many facilities that are altogether, that all have to collaborate. so it is fascinating, and it will be a great challenge for the future. >> before we go to questions
from the audience, i have someone who handed me a piece of paper. they get to go first. the question is, along the same lines, talking about adaptation in the infrastructure, what is the impact of the president's executive orders or appealing the executive orders on the military? i recall the adaptation executive order was repealed. are there specific impacts that will come from that, and does anyone have any thoughts on that? >> i would say i would not think so, unless something happens here. a lot of the pushback we get becomes political and someone says you cannot spend money on that. on the other hand, the military has been very effective, i think, saying we are not spending this on climate change, we're not spending it on renewable energy, we are
spending it on mission effectiveness. it's very hard for someone to come into a commander and save cannot spend this money to make your base more resilient. you cannot spend the money on your port in order to make you more effective. one of the things we do not like in the military as we get these edicts that comment, people can send us edicts and say you have to do x, and generally it is an unfunded mandate. we don't like unfunded mandates. people come in and say, you have to do this. we are looking and say where is the check attached to this? you have to take very precious money from something else in order to do the mandates. i don't see that as -- we are too far down the road. we understand this in a very granular level and we can make the case that if you don't do this, this is going to be the effect. we won't be able to mobilize, test, or whatever it is.
you go down to eglinton and you look at the blockhouses around the beach where we have all our telemetry end and you can see how undercut they are by the coastal flooding from storms that before would never reach halfway up the the beach. then you understand we have to spend money here, or we are going to lose millions, hundreds of millions. so i don't think, from my perspective in my experience has been that it makes sense, a pragmatic, practical kind of thing. it's not democrat, it's not republican, it's not liberal or conservative, it is mother nature. belong toure doesn't a party.
just trundles along. >> this is tied into the federal flood risk management standard and was promulgated by the last administration two years ago. it is clear that everything we've talked about, being ready for the future, takes that into account, just as you said. if it is focused on rebuilding after federal funds after a disaster, the money should go into putting you not back where you were, but where you may be in the future. and by the way, we just spent $15 billion in new orleans to rebuild the levees with the target height of the levees focused on the 2053 elevation, not the 2015 elevation. it makes a lot of sense. why put yourself in the whole -- hole the day after you finish the project? i believe the people think it about the infrastructure program we will see in the next week or the next two weeks recognize that if you are going to build,
build for the future and not for today. my hope is we will continue on the path of the federal flood risk management standard. >> it's like a do over on that, too. i know folks that work in the insurance industry and work in the insuring of insurance companies in that space. frankly think this will be commercially driven, because you are not going to be able to get any kind of insurance. it's like the folks down in miami. miami has looked at this and said, holy smokes. if you've been down on the strand down there in miami, the road is fairly close, just behind the beach. it's pretty cool. they started raising the road and they have a suitable system of linkage and levers that allow the water not to wash up. it stops the water, but then water will come out. then when the water gets so high out in the ocean, that one-way valve doesn't go either way, and it stops. now all the rain dams up behind it so the people that have all these nice houses on the other side of the road cannot get insurance because their first
floor is now classified as a basement. there is all that sort of unintended consequences, but it is commercially driven. if you not going to be able to get insurance, you will think twice about going to your insurance company and saying, how could i get insurance? even if i am not mandated federally, can i do something to protect myself from a catastrophic loss? i think that some of these things that other commercial interests are going to weigh in on this, and more or less force us to do the right thing without governmental rules and regulations. >> i would like to get a couple of questions from the audience, if we could. we have a room full of staffers. i would really be interested in hearing what people are in fact interested in. we have about 20 minutes left.
we have a wandering mic going around. if you could wait before you ask a question so you get the mic so we -- so we have it set. does anybody have any questions? don't worry, i have a page full of no one wants to raise their hand and be on television. we have at least one there. >> thank you so much for coming to speak with us today and answer the questions that are presented. the idea of mitigation, risk mitigation as a whole, the focus on adaptation, infrastructure planning, in terms of mitigating the impact that humans might have on climate change, is that also just a language aspect with the current administration and past administrations of trying not to create barriers, what is the talk on mitigating the military's impact on the environment?
>> are you talking about emissions at this point? let me do 30 seconds, even as the moderator, i'm going to answer a little bit. i ran the office when we were getting the greenhouse requirements down on us, and we still thought about the problem like it was about energy efficiency, it was about money, not about emissions. renewable energy projects were about resilience and savings, frankly, and not about lowering emissions. those were good benefits to have as well. but it wasn't why we were doing what we've doing. did anybody else have any thoughts of what it to add? >> here's the thing you have to understand. i hope everybody will take this to heart. you may have heard this old saw that says, the department of defense is the largest single user of energy in the united states. you heard that, right? the percentage of that, in order
to be the largest single user is one point 7% of all energy that is used in the united states. we run on the equivalent of about 350,000 barrels, i think it is, a day. versus the big u.s. is run on 20 million barrels a day. pick a number, but it's a lot bigger. if dod goes out of business tomorrow, we really don't move the needle on mitigation. we are going to try to be good stewards. we will try to fly our airplanes and sail our ships very efficiently and we're going to use alternative, nonpolluting fuel where it's possible. we are going to do all of those things because it makes mission sense and budget sense for us. but this is one of these things that we cannot win this war, we can show why it is important and what we believe in it, etc., but
we are not going to be able to win this. we don't have the volume to make it happen. so from a mitigation standpoint, we will do what we can do, and we will do the right thing, but that's not going to fix it because you will still have 98% of the budget that needs to be fixed. >> that said, and i agree with general keys on that point, when the military lowers its carbon boot print, so to speak, it's also able to provide leadership as it has in other technologies and innovation throughout the years.
you go back in the transition from steam to call to oil two nuclear, all forms of energy the united states military was at the forefront of leading those massive transitions in energy. today, the u.s. military will not alone be the ones leading in that transition to diversifying the energy mix. of course it's going to continue to operate on forms of awful -- fossil energy for the resealable huger. that said, when i was in the department of defense, the weather we budgeted for oil, it was essentially a tax on the rest of the defense budget. it would come in at the end of the year, after the services, the army, navy, air force -- everybody else built their budgets, do what they needed, and if the price of real had gone up that year, then it wasn't asked her cost on the military. in some ways there is a direct incentive to be more fuel efficient, because then you can use those funds are military readiness, training, other operations, equipment. at the same time, being more innovative, more efficient,
improve security of energy security and energy resilience. that is why secretary defense mattis in iraq famously said, unleash us from the tether of fuel. that didn't necessarily mean unleash us completely from awful -- fossil energy, but from the long supply lines that are putting our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and the greens at risk in combat and fuel to the front. in those 10 years since he made those comments, the military has gotten very busy diversifying and innovating in being able to reduce the burden on her forces of those long logistic supply lines. >> i would add to that, the military has set the example in our relations with our partners overseas. they're very impressed by what the u.s. military has done, and they are following it.
so words do matter. my personal opinion is, there such a thing as a climate that is created. the climate right now is, when you go overseas or go to an installation or people come here from other countries, they say, you are with it. the question will be, will they draw some other conclusion, even if we continue to pace but take a different public stance on it? it's important, united states must take a leadership position in dealing with climate change across the board. i don't think we ought to forget that, even though are going to pursue, i would argue that the military will pursue actions but at the same time, will be guiding and listening to and talking to our allies. >> do we have another question? >> thank you for speaking with
us. i have a quick question about the relationship between congress and the dod. are there particular things that congress can do outside of the allocation of funding to help the dod in mitigating some of the risk you guys have spoken about today? >> does anybody want to take that? how can congress be helpful? >> that is probably one of the highlights, the fact that congress will invite members of the dod to come over and sit down and talk. we prefer to talk in an office call. open testimony does not enthrall me. i don't think most people are enthralled with open testimony because all of you understand, it is high theater sometimes, but we need to get down where we
can talk about why we are doing we're doing, why we believe it is the right thing to do, and how that pragmatic discussion around the table, rather than jockeying for position or having a mic thrust in front of us. so now we're on the news. that is just not useful. generally speaking, the folks on the armed services committee that i dealt with academic day, that's where we get our work done. ask dod, why do you do this? it's not because we think it is something cool to do. we are pretty busy, so we really don't have time to do cool stuff. we have to do stuff that's focused on mission effectiveness. everyone would be happy to explain why we're doing it and why we need to do it. if you need to take the piers down in norfolk and build them higher, that is a discussion we should be able to have. if the unthinkable happens, even if you don't think about it. we need to think about it and talk about it. someone should not be able to
say i don't want you talking about that. it's not good. we are not sharing the information that we both have. i think that is important. >> this gets back to the executive order question. the challenges with the rescission of the executive order, what does that imposed in the mind of the department of defense? doubt. does this mean the things that i had planned, resiliency strategies or infrastructure corrections, changes, upgrades, modifications, i cannot do them now? does this mean i cannot use certain words, i cannot execute plans that i already had in place? the doubt is the problem. and right now, there is some doubt, because there is concern that if the military speaks openly about what it is trying to do it why it is trying to do it, it will be told to stop. that is bad. we don't want that to happen.
i think what the defense department would appreciate from congress is the opportunity to have that conversation and the opportunity to say, here is why i need to do this and here is what i'm doing it to prepare for. and be straightforward about it, and this is an impact to our national security and we have to prepare for it at the end. >> so just to throw a clarifying note out there, the implication is that of congress was to be cleared that dod can go about its normal resilience and adaptation plans and execute those, that that has nothing to do with the political discussion that is going on here. >> safety and adaptation planning is critical to future preparation to execute our mission. >> doing it right is important. it would be interesting to ask the members, how many of them had the opportunity to talk about the relationship between
the bases and the people who live off post and what they've done to think about climate change together. what are the adaptation steps they have to take together? i have met people that have spent a lot of time with their members and others, just as you said about even on our own military installation not meeting everybody, where we don't have been working together and the congress can be a great spur to having that joint effort to looking at the future. announcer: thursday, we will have live coverage before the senate committee. c-span3 or c-span.org. if you are on go, you can follow the former director or's testimony live on our c-span radio app, available on the apple app store or on google play for android devices.