- - Sunday, October 19, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Pentagon’s “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap,” published last week, demonstrates how thoroughly and deeply liberal “climate change” ideology is being embedded in our military establishment. To undo the damage will require a determined effort by our next president.

We’ve already seen how the climate change ideology has wasted scarce defense dollars, such as Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’ decision to spend $26 a gallon for 450,000 gallons of biofuel — about $11.7 million — when $5 a gallon diesel fuel would have met the same need. That, of course, came at a time when the Navy fleet was shrinking to the smallest size since the end of World War I.

The new roadmap implements two of President Obama’s executive orders, which direct all federal agencies to integrate climate change considerations in all their operations, planning and mission objectives. On the first page, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel writes that the Pentagon is very busy determining things such as the effect of climate change on Mr. Obama’s military “shift” to the Pacific and how it should be included in war games. He adds, “Politics or ideology must not get in the way of sound planning,” but that’s exactly what the mandates he describes will accomplish.

The report accepts as fact all the hyperbole of climate change and on that basis mandates that every aspect of Pentagon operations and planning should be adapted to consider those “facts.” It claims that climate change is a “force multiplier,” so great a national security risk that it may cause disease, trigger instability in and among nations and foster terrorism.

To deal with these supposed national security threats, Mr. Hagel’s report sets out how the Defense Department has created an overlay on the department’s activities that makes global warming an element to be considered in everything it does.

“Climate change adaptation” comes in the form of required studies and planning. It requires guidance be given to combatant commanders so that they will include climate concerns in “Theater Campaign Plans, Operations Plans, Contingency Plans and Theater Security Cooperation Plans.” That means climate change concerns have to be injected into battlefield planning and military training. It mandates assessments of how defense activities may affect “unique landscapes, ecosystems and habitats.” Accordingly, the Marines may have to choose which beach to storm not on the basis of taking their objective with the least casualties but by measuring which beach will suffer less erosion owing to their landing.

These are only a few of the dozens of plans, studies and military operations the “roadmap” requires in order to bow to the ideology of climate change. Every time that ideology has to be considered, it will cost money and rob planning time from real defense concerns.

The roadmap institutionalizes climate change thinking as part of the bureaucracy’s normal functions, making it an ever-present thought in the minds of the Pentagon’s denizens. I know from my service in the Pentagon that the bureaucracy will ensure that climate change concerns are included in all defense planning year after year until someone reverses Mr. Hagel’s mandates.

Perhaps the most predictable requirement the Defense Department has decided on says that the Pentagon will “collaborate” with the private sector to “leverage best practices and acquisition strategies” to include climate change concerns.

The defense industries will bend to the desires of their only customer because they must. Every major contractor and subcontractor will hire climate consultants to advise them and write studies on how they’re improving and using “best environmental practices” in things such as bending metal to manufacture an aircraft’s skin. The cost will be what the consultant market will bear and it will increase by millions of dollars the price of every ship, aircraft, rifle and Humvee contract the military signs. It will also add months to every manufacturing schedule.

Given the scarcity of defense dollars, we shouldn’t be adding these costs in time and money to everything the Pentagon does.

We need to cancel this sort of wasteful spending owing to the growing mountain of evidence that disproves the supposed problem. Just how much time do we want to take from combatant commanders and their staffs to deal with these issues?

None at all, but that’s the power of the liberals’ climate change ideology. Because it dominates the thinking of people such as Mr. Obama and Mr. Hagel, they can — and are — embedding it in the thinking of the federal bureaucracy. It will take a concerted effort from the White House and the defense secretary’s office to relieve our defense establishment of this pointless burden. Repealing the president’s climate change executive orders would be a very good start.

There is every reason to doubt that climate change should be a concern at all. It clearly isn’t a national security threat that should pervade the Defense Department’s every activity. Our combatant commanders and their staffs have more important things to worry about, such as winning our wars. They — and the rest of America’s defenders — should not have to waste time thinking about anything else.

Jed Babbin is a former deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration and co-author of “The Sunni Vanguard” (London Center for Public Policy, 2014).

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