DOD Exercise Shows How Western Hemisphere Can Combat Climate Change > U.S. Department of Defense > Department of Defense News

Hurricane Ian, which tore through the Caribbean, destroyed Puerto Rico and decimated parts of Florida, is the latest reminder that climate change is already happening and bringing new burdens and costs to people around the world.

Daniel Erickson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Kristina O’Brien of the Joint Chiefs of Staff led a tabletop exercise to examine the effects that climate change will have on the western hemisphere and how to respond to increasingly severe storms. and natural disasters.

The DOD often works in support of civilian agencies in humanitarian disaster relief operations. The department’s personnel and logistical capabilities often mean the difference between life and death for those involved.

The tabletop exercise was titled “Precipitous Storm,” and it was important to identify the ways in which climate change will “irrevocably alter the context in which the department operates,” Erickson wrote in a report on the results of the exercise. .

Climate change, he said, will create new operational demands on DOD and could undermine existing capabilities.

The Western Hemisphere is susceptible to climate impacts and the homeland will be affected as well as neighbors in the region. The tabletop exercise “considered climate-related scenarios in 2037, followed by a discussion of how the DOD and the interagency should respond, and the steps we can take now to be better prepared to mitigate related risks. climate,” Erickson said in the report. .

The exercise highlighted the need for more capabilities in the hemisphere, more cooperation between interagency partners and more interoperability between countries in the region, he said.

The exercise brought together numerous DOD personnel, members of US Northern Command, US Southern Command, and interagency partners.

Erickson would like to see more tabletop exercises with regional partners. He would also like to see the DOD work more closely with partners in the region to help build their capacity. He would also like to see a climate change aspect in all future DOD-sponsored tabletop exercises.

The exercise, in fact, indicated ways the department can prepare now for the challenges inherent in climate change, DOD officials said. The officials said the United States badly needs a whole-of-government coordination mechanism to develop actions and messages to compete in the arena created by climate change.

Teresa H. Sadler