On Wednesday, the United States Army unveiled a new strategic plan for fiscal years 2023-2027 that includes actions to combat and respond to the ‘severe impacts’ of climate change.
The 50-page plan provides a series of ambitious goals to achieve Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s 2021 request to “immediately take appropriate policy actions to prioritize climate change considerations.”
“For today’s soldiers operating in extreme temperature environments, fighting wildfires, and supporting hurricane recovery, climate change isn’t a distant future, it is a reality,” said Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of the Army.
The new plan stated that the US Army’s ability to train and conduct operations in safe environments is impacted by climate change, which is an urgent and serious threat to U.S. national security.
“Extreme weather events, soaring average temperatures, and other hazards caused by climate change are increasing the risk to military operations and forces at home and in many parts of the world. Adapting the Army to climate change will return significant, lasting advantages in training, readiness, and capabilities at strategic and operational levels,” according to the plan signed by Rachel Jacobson and Daniel Klippstein, Army’s Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9.
The strategic plan’s objectives will influence shifts in Army installations, acquisition, logistics, and training.
While the plan offers ways to reduce climate change, it does so without directly acknowledging the military’s hand in exacerbating the problem as one of the largest industry emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.
“Dangerous levels of greenhouse gases (GHG) have already accumulated in the Earth’s atmosphere,” the Climate Strategy Implementation Plan said. “While the Army cannot address all or even most GHG emissions, the right initiatives, investments, and policies can significantly reduce Army GHG emissions while at the same time enhancing readiness.”
“In climate change terms, this is known as ‘mitigation,’” it continued.
One area where climate change is causing challenges for the Army is by creating increasingly extreme weather.
“The effects of extreme weather exacerbated by climate change have already had profound impacts on the DOD,” a Pentagon press release said Monday, going on to describe damages to military installations as a result of extreme weather and rising sea levels.
Some of the Army’s goals outlined in the Climate Strategy Plan include the introduction of an Electric Light Reconnaissance vehicle next year — the first in what the service hopes to be a long line of rechargeable combat vehicles by 2050. Additionally, the Army wants to provide “100% carbon-pollution-free electricity” for all its installations by 2030; achieve a reduction of 50% greenhouse emissions for all Army buildings by 2032; and achieve “net-zero” emissions for all installations by 2045.