Climate change may be an “accelerant of instability” in future conflicts, and the U.S. military needs to plan for possible environmental catastrophes and resource wars, according to the Pentagon’s soon-to-be-released master strategy document.
Among other things, the draft QDR suggests the military will have to start planning for operations in which rising sea levels, an ice-free Arctic and higher overall global temperatures may be an important factor. What’s more, it suggests that military planners will have to prepared for the knock-on effects of climate change: forced migration, resource scarcity and the spread of disease.
In parallel, the draft QDR calls for a bigger push for energy independence by the military. The Defense Department, the document notes, is already “moving out smartly” to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, and to tap more renewable sources of energy.
It also points to the clout of one D.C. think tank, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). The think tank — which has pioneered the field of “natural security” — just released a new study on how the Pentagon has incorporated climate change and its effects into the process of drafting the QDR.
Phi Beta Iota: This report, and all of its links, are fascianting at multiple levels: First and foremost, the military is long overdue for putting its financial and economic weight behind alternative energies, not least because they reduce the tail as the Army pioneered in Iraq, but because they also reduce the heat signatures. Second, we see a distinct emergence of an alternative “intelligence service” that does not include DIA or CIA–this is a striking example of flag officers recognizing the value of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and implementing something that serves them in a manner that neither DIA nor CIA is capable of; third–and this is good news for DIA–the flaws in the thinking and discovery of the vaunted private service are obvious–they have not done their homework and can be consider “Al Gore light” in a lot of what they are doing. Fourth, and we will all know on Monday, it appears that China, China, China has been stealthed a bit, and “contested commons” is the buzz word, but according to the original public treatment of this concept, it equates to China, China, and China even though token references are made to pirates and other minor “threats.” See “The Contested Commons” By Michele Flournoy and Shawn Brimley in the US Naval Institute Proceedings of July 2009.
Incidentally, the true pioneer of “natural security” as originally called, “environmental security, is Dr. Col Max Manwaring of the U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute (SSI)whose seminal edited work Environmental Security and Global Stability–Problems and Responses was published in 2002. We mention this, not to detract from the immaculate conception of the think tank de jure, but rather to observe that DoD (DIA) desperately needs an internal objective capability able to keep track of all information in all languages all the time, and both accelerate the good ideas when they emerge rather than 20 years later, while placing all new claims in proper historical and cultural context.
This article suggests to me that the Undersecretary of Policy does not need the Undersecretary of Intelligence–USD(P) has clearly decided that the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is going to be about China, China, and China (Chinese space, Chinese Navy, Chinese cyber-war).
I predict that the QDR will pay lip-service to Irregular Warfare, and that AFRICOM and SOUTHCOM will continue to be the un-funded un-loved runts in the Combatant Command litter.
The problem, as I see it, is that the military intelligence staffs are too dependent on classified intelligence that does not cover Irregular Warfare, and have no funding–and very limited experise outside of USSOCOM J-23 which remains the all-time champion for doing Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) “right [they know who knows], the COCOMs that most need funding for Irregular Warfare cannot muster the intelligence-policy-resource “brief” to justify that funding.
The “system” is weighted toward high-end technical collection as well as high-end assistance projects, and is, in my judgment, at least ten years away from being able to orchestrate a global grid of non-governmental and individual “players” able to define a multinational strategy, resource plan, and inter-operability campaign plan for executing Irregular Warfare using Whole of Government and NATO/SCO elements whose budgets and capaiblities remains strictly autonomous, but are “harmonized” through shared information and sense-making at the SECRET and unclassified levels.