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Messages - OldLeatherneck

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Policy and solutions / US Military Basing and Climate Change
« on: April 07, 2015, 06:47:34 AM »
It's personal when I've spent time at the 5 most vulnerable, to Climate Change, US Military Facilities in the world!!

                Diego Garcia Atoll, IndianOcean

I just happened upon the following report by Catherine Foley, Adjunct Fellow at the American Security Project, in 2012:

While this report certainly highlights the threats of Climate Change to US military infrastructure worldwide, what hit me very personally was that I have spent much time during my career at each one of the 5 facilities considered most vulnerable to Climate Change. What incenses me most is that the "War Hawks" in the US Congress who must depend on these facilities for further military campaigns of US Agression seem to claim that Climate Change is a Hoax! 

Below are a few quotes from the  report, then I will follow with  selected quotes about the 5  most vulnerable US military facilities followed by my personal experiences and observations:

Climate change not only affects our security through its impacts on the economy and our
physical infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports, etc.); it also can also affect domestic and
international military bases as flooding, drought and extreme weather events intensify.
Physical changes to the environment may disrupt U.S. military capabilities and facilities,
such as military training ranges or bases.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review,
there are a number of US military installations that are already at risk. The report says:

“In 2008, the National Intelligence Council [NIC] judged that more than 30 U.S. military
installations were already facing elevated levels of risk from rising sea levels. DoD’s operational
readiness hinges on continued access to land, air, and sea training and test space.”

Although sea-level rise is a major concern, other environmental threats must be taken into
consideration in order to keep our military installments safe and secure. We tend to look at
environmental threats on an individual, case-by-case basis, which does not take the plethora
of threats into account.

The 5 Most Vulnerable US Facilities in he order depicted in the article:

1.  Diego Garcia

On my first of 4 visits to Diego Garcia en route to/from US Battlegroups deployed in the Indian Ocean, I  thought Diego Garcia was the most beautiful island I'd ever seen. Nothing more beautiful than a sunrise through the windstrept  trees along the miles of pristine beaches.  On a subsequent visit, while enjoying the camaraderie of the Officers Club, I became a charter member of the Diego Garcia Yacht Club although my only previous experience on a sailboat was a small "sunfish" in a protected harbor in the Persian Gulf. 

Diego Garcia is a critical logistics hub for the US and UK militaries in the Middle East. However, the island is a coral atoll encompassing 67 square miles, of which only 10 square miles is dry land........The highest point above sea-level is 22 feet, but the island’s mean height above sea-level is 4 feet.........A sea level rise of a several feet would force the US military to undertake a costly and difficult military relocation process; in addition, the military would lose a
geographically strategic outpost in the Indian region.

2. Bahrain.

I spent many nights in Bahrain during Gulf War I (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm).  I loved the friendly locals and enjoyed visiting many of the historic sites, some of which predated the  Islamic era.

Military installations out of Bahrain, including U.S. “floating bases”- The U.S. military has built up military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf, many based out of Bahrain, to deter Iranian military from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz (a key oil shipping route for the U.S.).

3. Guam.

I've only been there twice.  However, in addition to being strategically vital to the US, it is a major destination for Japanese "newlyweds" on their company sponsored honeymoons.

The military installation on the island of Guam is one of the most strategically important US bases in the Western Pacific Ocean. Military presence on Guam allows the US access to China and the rest of East Asia by air and sea to the West and Hawaii and North America to the East.9

4. Eglin AFB, Florida.

Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Eglin Air Force Base is the largest Air Force base in the world. It encompasses 724 square miles of land and occupies the majority of the northwest Florida panhandle. It serves as the focal point for all Air Force armaments and is home to the Air Force Armament Center (AAC), one of three product centers in the Air Force Material Command.
The AAC develops, tests and deploys many critical air-delivered weapons. It is a very important base not only for the US military but also for the local Florida economy. Since it is located on the coast in the Gulf of Mexico, it faces storm surges, sea-level rise and saltwater infiltration, which causes problems with freshwater resources in the area. With the increase of extreme weather, Eglin Air Force Base may face costly damages in the future

One of the few times I had to work with the Air Force, in my last over 30 years in the Defense Industry, was when I had  the opportunity to take a prototype Air-to-Air missile through all the final test protocols for the Air Force at Eglin AFB.  Since retirement I've enjoyed going back to the area to enjoy the  seafood and am hoping to be back there in a few weeks to do some fishing.

5. Norfolk Naval Base, VA.

Naval Base Norfolk is one of the largest naval complexes in the world, situated on the southern coast of Virginia in an area commonly known as Hampton Roads. The Naval Station houses US Atlantic Fleet, Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic and the Navy’s largest supply center.

The nearby Newport News shipyard is also the only yard in the U.S. that builds aircraft
carriers. Because of its location on the southern tip of Virginia, it is at risk of sea-level rise and storm surge, but it may also face threats from hurricanes in the Atlantic.

As the effects of climate change become more pronounced, Norfolk Naval Air Station may be effected more acutely, putting strategic naval resources at risk.

I can't begin to enumerate the number of times I've worked on naval vessels in the Norfolk area, be it Little Creek, Norfolk, Newport News, Portsmouth or Dam Neck (Training  Center).  Not only was that US Navy vessels it also included a number of Royal Saudi Navy vessels during a major expansion program in the early 80s. The US Navy is already constructing Double-decker piers at the Norfolk Naval Station in anticipation of predicted elevated sea levels, in spite of concerns by members of the GOP Congressional Delegation that AGW/CC is a hoax.

In Conclusion

My engineering expertise, in technical terms, was mostly related to shipboard anti-missile radar performance in varying electromagnetic, sea clutter, land clutter and battle group environments. My real-world experience with naval warfare is in the Persian Gulf.  I understand the threats, I know the concerns of naval commanders related to threats to our forces due to the current  escalation of tensions in the Middle East.

As an American, Vietnam veteran and an on sight-observer of Gulf War I, I am embarrassed  my countries elected officials lack of concern for the known impacts of AGW/CC on National Security and the associated critical infrastructure.



I fully agree that unless one understands the regional culture, economy, infrastructure and governmental structure one can not fully appreciate the true local impacts; however, as Louisiana is at the leading edge of the SLR issue (due to many factors including subsidence, erosion, hurricanes, low land elevations, etc.) hopeful the rest of the world will learn some lessons from Louisiana so that they will be more prepared to deal with the challenges when their turn comes, as sea level continues to rise in the future.



Unfortunately, Bangladesh may not have time to learn any lessons from what is learned in Louisiiana!!

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