• http://www.blogger.com/profile/07660151427687366855 Deep Sheep
    Mind blowing! Cant wait for you book to come out. There is a big empty space on the bookshelf about this topic.
  • Ernie
    As a future officer in the U.S. Army, I am inclined to think about how the Army may contribute to combating the impacts of environmental change on America. I agree with the "dual assessment" you promote, but I believe this type of thinking should extend to military planning.
    On the home front the U.S. military has traditionally been called upon to aid in major environmental disasters, but the forces sent to mitigate damages haven’t always been properly equipped and trained. In 1927, the Mississippi River experienced a massive flood of which Herbert Hoover remarked, “It is the greatest peace-time disaster in our history (Simpich, 245).” Seven states in the Mississippi River basin were partially submerged, and 800,000 people were forced to relocate (Simpich, 244). Since the U.S. military lacked the proper amount of ships, more “than 1,000 vessels and ships were drafted into service.” Naval and Marine planes were sent to fly above the floods to spot victims, and the Coast Guard would in turn rescue them (Simpich, 273). The military was not ready for such an unprecedented disaster, and even today it is not totally prepared for these situations. On September 3, 2005, the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division deployed to New Orleans during the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina, but not in their usual method. Instead of parachuting into combat and fighting a hostile enemy, they used boats to perform search and rescue missions, where airborne training and rifle marksmanship was of little to no use. They arrived three days after the levees broke with just four boats at their disposal before Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine assets joined in (Gillmore). The Division commander, Major General William B. Caldwell IV, said “We eventually became the 82nd Waterborne Division and that really was our forte (Gillmore),” in response to their unexpected mission. The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 and Hurricane Katrina were extremely focused disasters relative to the expanse of the nation’s fifty states. I believe higher global temperatures will increase the destructiveness of hurricanes, and I do believe glacier-melt and sea-level rise will occur. This would mean that entire coastlines and rivers and tributaries, not only the Gulf Coast region, will become vulnerable to environmental disasters. Now the question is whether our military will increase the scope of their training to include measures to salvage America from environmental chaos; if that goal is too lofty, will our military, which has faithfully defended our freedom for centuries, possess the pure manpower and available resources to handle mitigation missions on a national scale?

    Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook: Afghanistan. Last Updated 30 November 2009.

    Gillmore, Gerry J. “82nd Airborne Division Becomes ‘Waterborne’ in New Orleans.” 21 September 2005. United States Department of Defense: American Forces Press Service. 6 December 2009.

    Simpich, Frederick. “The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.” The National Geographic Magazine. (1927): Pp. 243-289.
  • http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/about/directory/view/-/id/87/ Cleo Paskal
    Ernie raises some really important points.

    There is substantial concern about this. In respect of the National Guards, Senate Armed Services Committee member Senator Jack Reed summed up the problem: “How do you maintain overseas deployment of significant numbers and still maintain a Guard force in the United States capable of responding to disasters?”

    As Ernie mentions, appropriate training and equipping are separate and equally important issues.

    I wonder if it might make sense to train and equip a portion of the National Guard specifically to handle natural disaster. These men and women would not be deployed overseas and could form the core of a permanent home guard designed to handle domestic civilian populations in crisis. The promise of no foreign postings may result is easier recruitment. As the majority would be reservists, their part-time employment may make it more financially viable. They would also have to be able to coordinate and integrate with other branches of the military when supplemental assistance is required.

    Perhaps military experts (Ernie?) can comment on if this is viable and/or anything close to sufficient. Or perhaps propose other structures that may help in what may soon become "interesting times".

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