food and water supplies, possibly leading to even greater stress on the expanded human population.3

This chapter begins with an examination of climate change impacts on naval forces’ missions and operations—including increased humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) and the resulting implications for such units as U.S. Navy hospital ships, Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs), and Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs). The report then focuses on climate-change-related operational impact and challenges in the Arctic, highlighting Arctic command issues and an examination of U.S. icebreaker needs. This chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of a changing climate on health and disease and the impact that this may have for future naval missions.

Viewed from a national security standpoint, the above changes would likely amplify stresses on weaker nations and generate geopolitical instability in already vulnerable regions.4 A range of naval mission impacts may result from such conditions, including the sorts of antipiracy and counterterrorism missions now being conducted off Somalia. However, the clearest implications are for a potential increase in the frequency of HA/DR missions. These additional HA/DR demands have the potential to strain military transportation resources and supporting force structures.

The U.S. Navy, as a forward-deployed force, is in position to reach disaster relief sites faster than other agencies and will almost assuredly experience increased demand for assistance if disasters increase due to climate change.5 The


See Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007, “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis,” Working Group I contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Susan Solomon, Dahe Qin, Martin Manning, Zhenlin Chen, Melinda Marquis, Kristen B. Averyt, Melinda M.B. Tignor, and Henry LeRoy Miller [eds.]), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and New York. See also Catherine P. McMullen and Jason Jabbour, 2009, Climate Change Science Compendium, United Nations Environment Programme, EarthPrint, Nairobi, Kenya.


See Statement of the Record of Dr. Thomas Fingar, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis and Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, before the Permanent Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, House of Representatives, “National Intelligence Assessment on the National Security Implications of Global Climate Change to 2030,” June 25, 2008. Available at Accessed November 24, 2009. See also Military Advisory Board, 2007, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change. CNA Corporation, Alexandria, Va.


Naval Operations Concept 2010 (NOC 10)—a joint maritime strategy document for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard—calls out “humanitarian assistance and disaster response” as one of six capabilities that constitute the core of U.S. maritime power and that “reflect an increased emphasis on those activities that prevent war and build partnerships.” See Department of the Navy and U.S. Coast Guard (ADM Gary Roughead, USN; Gen James T. Conway, USMC; and ADM Thad W. Allen, USCG), 2010, Naval Operations Concepts 2010, Implementing the Maritime Strategy, June. Available at Accessed June 4, 2010. However, it is not the sole responsibility of the U.S. military to respond to national and international humanitarian and disaster-relief emergencies; many U.S. and international governmental and private agencies may be engaged in any given relief operation.

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