Pentagon identifies threats to Arctic bases — Analysis
According to inspector General, US military bases are not adequately prepared for the effects of warmer weather.
While Russia has warned that the increase in Western military activity within the Arctic might spark conflicts, Pentagon officials are concerned about climate change.
US military bases in the Arctic and sub-Arctic have already seen damage from changing weather patterns, including cracked runways and increased flooding, and they’re not prepared to adapt to the long-term effects of climate change, the Pentagon’s inspector general reported on Friday. This threat was overlooked, despite the fact that a Pentagon report sent to Congress in 2019 stated that climate change poses a security risk and could have an impact on US military bases and missions.
Inspector General blamed planning problems on the lack of attention at the Department of Defense to ensure the safety of the troops. “climate resilience”American bases “Military installation leaders focused on existing weather and energy challenges rather than analyzing their installations’ infrastructure, assets and mission exposure and vulnerability to climate change,”According to the report.
On visits to six bases in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, the inspector general found that commanders weren’t aware of requirements for resilience planning, which was ordered in a 2016 Pentagon directive. The base leaders didn’t comply with mandates to identify current and projected environmental risks, vulnerabilities and mitigation measures.
The US, Russia and other countries have looked to increase their military presence in the Arctic, at least partly because of the region’s vast petroleum and mineral reserves. The Arctic has also seen new shipping routes opened by warmer temperatures, which have increased access to its natural resources.
According to the inspector general, climate change in the Arctic is much more severe than elsewhere in the world. Higher mitigation costs have been incurred and training times are disrupted by wildfires.
The Pentagon views the Arctic as an important region for US security. “The strategy states that the Arctic is a potential vector for an attack on the US homeland, a region where Russia and China are operating more freely and a strategic corridor for [US] forces between the Indo-Pacific and Europe,”The inspector general stated.
However, a senior Russian official warned that there could be a greater concern for the Arctic. Increased military activity by NATO member states and the US in the Arctic “raises the risks of unintentional incidents, which, in addition to security risks, can also cause serious damage to the fragile Arctic ecosystem,”Nikolay Korchunov was the Russian representative at the Arctic Council.
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