I’m probably an archaic, conservative Neanderthal, but I believe the work of the Defense Department can boil down to three goals. First, embarking on war. Second, planning to launch a war. Third, being good enough at waging war and planning to wage war that you don’t have to perform.
That’s why a memo on March 9 from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin worries me. Even though our defense budget is large, we still have a limited pool of resources to acquire. Once any budget is set, if you invest money, time, energy or other resources in one thing, it must be obtained from another. There are things in life zero-sum games-and once budgets and long-term goals are set at the Pentagon, deck shuffling doesn’t come without cost or benefit.
This is something we need to understand when labeling the Biden administration climate change a threat to national security and establishes a working team at its highest level to deal with the president’s executive order on the environment: It’s not just buying a few Prius plug-ins for long-distance transportation. This is something that is likely to have effects beyond a few good sounding news releases and a bit of green PR work.
And so we got the memo on March 9 from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to the senior leader of the Pentagon announcing the creation of a “Climate Worker,” according to The hill.
“Climate change presents a growing threat to U.S. national security interests and defense goals,” the memo read “The changing climate is changing global security and operational environments, affecting our missions, plans and installations …
“We will include climate risk assessment in all of our work from installation planning; to modeling, simulation, and warfare; to the National Defense Strategy and all other relevant strategies, planning, and documents. and program processes including decision -making supports in the Military Departments.
“Whether it’s adding efficiency to the platform to improve freedom of movement in competitive logistics environments, or deploying new energy solutions to boost the stability of core capabilities in installations, our goals the mission is well aligned with our climate goals, ”continued the memo.
Austin added the Pentagon “will compete with China for the energy technologies essential to our future success.”
On Jan. 27, a week into the new administration, Austin issued a statement calling climate change a “national security issue” after a series of executive orders by President Joe Biden.
“I fully support the President’s direction today to incorporate climate considerations as an important component of our national security and to assess the impacts of climate change on our security, operational, and infrastructure strategies,” he said. by Austin at statement.
“Since 2010, the Department of Defense has recognized that the planet’s climate change has a dramatic impact on our missions, plans, and installations. Every year, we see the consequences of increasing flood incidents, thirst, fires, and extreme weather events in our home installations.
“Every year, our commanders and their Allies and partners conduct operations as a result of instability in desert-induced societies, the threat of enemy access to homeland through the Arctic. , and demands for humanitarian assistance around the world. In 2019 alone, the Department evaluated climate-related impacts at 79 installations and in each Combatant Command geographic area of responsibility. “
He went on to add that “by changing how we approach our own carbon footprint, the Department can also be a platform for positive change, stimulating the development of climate -friendly technologies.”
“There’s little about what the Department is doing to protect American citizens who aren’t affected by climate change. It’s a national security issue, and we should treat it like that.”
Climate change is a national security issue, and we should treat it like this. Every direction from @POTUS, we will include (among other initiatives) the security implications of climate change in our risk assessments, strategy development, and planning guidance. https://t.co/IVD00VsHav
– Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) January 27, 2021
When it comes to vague environmental statements like this, it’s hard to know how to take it seriously. Is this Joe Biden ending with Keystone XL pipeline project today a level seriously? Or is John Kerry receiving a climate change reward in Iceland by flying there by private jet-level seriously?
Whatever the case, the message is clear: The Pentagon will divert large resources towards climate change and it will come at a cost.
That may not sound like it from Defense Secretary Austin – which made it sound like a great opportunity to boost our operational readiness. For all the Curtis LeMay-esque Neanderthals like me, who still believe that our military should be in the business of the three goals I outlined in the beginning, that seems satisfying. When you are waging war or planning to launch a war, if there is an immediate threat that needs to be addressed, by all means – address it.
However, one does not need a “Climate Change Working Group” to do this. Only the most alarming of climate change activists believe that change will be so immediate and dramatic that it will require a dramatic shift of resources. The Pentagon can only work within the existing strategic framework – if, in fact, it is about it.
Instead, notice the language in these statements and memos that has little – in fact, nothing – to do with American military readiness.
When Secretary Austin talking about how “our mission objectives are properly aligned with our climate objectives,” do we assume that some level of our military objectives will be altered or aligned with “our climate objectives ” if needed? That is the arena of foreign policy, not the military.
And then we have a commitment that “by changing how we approach our own carbon footprint, the Department can also be a platform for positive change, encouraging the development of climate -friendly technologies,” which sends of two red flags at once.
While I’m not advocating that we should fix as many more F-35 flights as possible because, hey, that jet fuel is just sitting around, the job of the Department of Defense is to defend our country and our nationals. interest to the best of its ability. If that can be done better, great – but reducing our military’s carbon footprint shouldn’t be a secondary goal, much less a primary one.
And then there’s the vague promise that the Pentagon can spur social change by acting as a taxpayer-funded incubator that “explodes in the development of climate-friendly technologies. Not only is this done better by the private sector, it, again, is not an ownership of the armed forces tasked with a rising China and bellicose Iran.
Sure, Austin could talk about how “China’s Department of Defense can compete for energy technologies that are essential to future success.” Sounds wonderful. What sounds like a better idea is what I predict China will do, instead: Compete with us for military supremacy, the carbon footprint will be damned, and let some other part of the state apparatus of Beijing to do renewable energy research and development activities Biden administration seems like our military wants to do.
We have finite resources and many different threats. It all sounds great in memos and news releases. I guarantee you it’s less enticing when our opponents are busy getting the top military, all because they don’t care about any of these things.
This article originally appeared on The Western Journal.