DoD Releases Climate Adaptation Plan

The Department of Defense has released its 2021 Climate Adaptation Plan – a roadmap to ensure it can maintain the ability to operate under increasingly severe climatic events. “More extreme environments may require changes to where and how U.S. forces train for future conflict,” the Department’s plan states.  For example, wildfires in California last year shut down more than a dozen training exercises at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake because it was too dangerous for personnel and aircraft to operate in the heat and smoke. 

In response to these challenges, the department is modifying its training and medical skills for the force, bolstering personal protective gear, and – when conditions are still prohibitive –  stating that “wargaming, enhanced AI-based simulations, and state-of-the-art tabletop exercises may also assist in reducing the risks of actual ground-based maneuvers in extreme conditions.” 

Going forward, the Department intends to include the security implications of climate change in all its risk analyses, strategy development, and wargaming.

The Department has defined 5 “Lines of Effort” to begin these adaptations:

  1. Climate-informed decision making – climate change considerations and impacts included in all relevant and applicable DOD decisions;
  2. Train and equip a climate-ready force;
  3. Resilient built and natural infrastructure for successful mission preparedness, military readiness, and operational success in changing conditions;
  4. Supply chain resilience and innovation to ensure uninterrupted access to key supplies, materials, chemicals, and services; and,
  5. Enhance adaptation and resilience through collaboration.

Existing and future gear will also be examined to see whether their chemicals and materials could harm troops in extreme heat or cold. 

“DOD must consider the impacts to readiness and mission that substitution of chemicals with global warming and/or unintended environmental consequences may pose,” the report states. “Removal of key chemicals from the supply chain may necessitate development of costly alternatives.”