The Implications of Climate Change for the US Military

August 2019 No Comments

Speaker: Miller, S. (US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) G-2 Mad Scientist Laboratory)

Date: 14 August 2019

Speaker Session Preview

SMA hosted a speaker session presented by Ms. Sage Miller (US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) G-2 Mad Scientist Laboratory) as a part of its SMA General Speaker Series. During her brief, Ms. Miller presented an overview of the military and security implications of climate change. She began by identifying three categories of implications: 1) new zones of competition, 2) effects on the Joint Force, and 3) new drivers of conflict. She then highlighted a new area of strategic competition—the Arctic. She identified the main competitors in the region—Russia and China—and outlined their primary activities and interests, as well as the potential consequences of melting ice caps in the region. Furthermore, Ms. Miller spoke about the growing competition occurring over global fishing grounds. She stated that as global sea temperatures rise, fish are migrating to search for more oxygenated waters and larger food sources, and this migration has led to competition and tensions among seafaring nations, particularly in the South China Sea. Ms. Miller also highlighted the effects that the spread of disease may have on the Joint Force. Increased heat and precipitation are changing disease vectors, which may increase the frequency and intensity of outbreaks and thus have a greater likelihood of reaching US troops. Moreover, melting permafrost will slowly begin releasing diseases into the atmosphere that humans are currently ill-equipped to combat. She also spoke about climate change threatening key bases both at home and abroad and suggested that new types of training and missions to prepare for extreme weather conditions, an increased military presence in the Arctic, and an increase in humanitarian missions and disaster relief may all be necessary in the near future. Ms. Miller also discussed mass migration as a new driver of conflict, as it will force millions of people to flock to urban areas. Migration toward urban areas will in turn compound other problems like resource scarcity, as well as increase the potential for civil unrest, conflict, and instability. To conclude, Ms. Miller discussed what the US should do in the future to address these growing problems and outlined her five key takeaways: 1) more humanitarian missions are needed, 2) more disaster response missions at home are required, 3) the readiness of the US Army is threatened, 4) an increase in resource competition is forthcoming, and 5) there will be a greater likelihood for conflict worldwide.

Speaker Session Audio File

Download Ms. Miller’s Biography and Slides


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