By John Conger
In 2017, the U.S. Congress directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a list of the installations in each military service that were most vulnerable to climate change. They gave DoD a year to do this work, as it wasn’t simple. The DoD would need to look across its enterprise, and determine how it would measure vulnerability and assess which risks were specifically from climate change. At the Center for Climate and Security, we published a briefer on the factors they might consider.
In early 2019, the DoD report was submitted to Congress, but it omitted the requested prioritization and had other puzzling gaps as well. It omitted the Marine Corps. It left out all non-US bases. It didn’t respond to Congressional questions about mitigation and cost. Instead, it included a list of 79 bases that the Department determined were its most critical, and then did a rudimentary assessment of the threat from climate change without prioritization. Congress then directed them to go back and redo the work.
In April, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) submitted an addendum that prioritized the 79 installations previously submitted by ascribing values to various climate impacts, but including no scale or measure within each. In other words, you were either vulnerable to flooding or not. That was the extent of the analysis. Nonetheless, the DoD developed three prioritized lists (again omitting the Marine Corps) based on that exercise. Congress again expressed dissatisfaction with the approach and went straight to the individual Services, asking each of them for their own lists.
The Air Force list was revealed by the media earlier, and we did a side-by-side evaluation of the OSD list for the AF and their own list.
Now, each of the services has submitted a list to Congress, and we’ll do similar side-by-sides in the coming days. Until then, here are the climate-vulnerable base lists from each of the services which were sent to Congress yesterday, and published for the first time on our site:
A few early observations:
The Marine Corps list is entirely new. Previously, OSD didn’t submit a Marine Corps list, which was a major gap in the initial report. Also of note, the Marine Corps list is the only one that didn’t confine itself to domestic bases.
The Army list is focused not on flooding and sea-level rise, but on desertification, drought and risk of wildfire.
The Navy list looks much the same as the OSD version, but it’s notable that the Navy submitted more than ten bases. In general, it’s good to remember that each of these lists is intended to be the bases most at risk, but it doesn’t mean that other bases aren’t at risk as well.
More to come.