US Army’s new focus is training soldiers to fight deadly heat waves, droughts and floods


In a major step last week, the U.S. military developed a roadmap to reduce carbon emissions by using more and more green energy, protect military bases from global warming damage and improve preparedness in training soldiers to deal with a world with more deadly heat waves. , droughts and floods.

Christine E. Wormuth, Under-Secretary for the Armed Forces (Installations, Energy and Environment), published a “climate strategy report” on February 8. The main Army climate strategy and objectives (ACS) mentioned in this report are as follows:

First, the army, whose primary objective will remain “to deploy, fight and win the nation’s wars by providing ready, rapid and sustained land dominance as part of the joint force”, will also be a land force. resilient and sustainable capable of operating in all domains with effective mitigation and adaptation measures against the major effects of climate change, in line with the Army’s modernization efforts.

US Army vehicles during a training exercise. (via Twitter)

Second, it will achieve a 50% reduction in net GHG (greenhouse gas) pollution from the military by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

Third, it will achieve net zero GHG emissions for the military by 2050.

Fourth, it will proactively consider the security implications of climate change in strategy, planning, procurement, supply chain and programming documents and processes.

The US military’s climate strategy

The report further states that “the military can increase facility capacity and resilience; prepare for new risks and new environments; modernize processes, standards and infrastructure; and decrease operational energy demand, which in turn will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Guided by the ACS, the Army will build on its current advancements in areas such as vehicle fuel efficiency and electrification, operational power generation, battery storage, land management, l sourcing, supply chain resilience and workforce development.

“The military will continue to reduce consumption of energy and other natural resources to improve operational readiness and modernization while adapting to and mitigating current and future climate threats.”

US Army base at Fort Sill
The US Army base at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. (via Twitter)

The report outlines three main areas of how the military plans to adapt to climate change. These areas cover better buildings, better vehicle procurement and supply chains, and better training. He outlined three Lines of Effort (LOE) that must be implemented towards “a resilient and sustainable land force capable of operating in all areas with effective climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, consistent with the modernization efforts of the army”.

LOE 1: Facilities: Improve resilience and sustainability by adapting infrastructure and natural environments to climate change risks, securing access to training and proving grounds in the future, and mitigating GHG emissions .

NDP 2: Acquisition and Logistics: Increase operational capacity while reducing demand for support and building climate resilience.

PLO 3: Training: Prepare a force ready to operate in a climate-changing world.

“The effects of climate change have strained supply chains, damaged our infrastructure, and increased the risks to Army soldiers and families from natural disasters and extreme weather,” Christine E. Wormuth wrote. in its foreword to the report, adding, “The military must adapt across our enterprise and deliberately pursue greenhouse gas mitigation strategies to reduce climate risk.

Harnessing renewable energies

As a result, the report outlines how, for its more than 130 installations around the world, the U.S. military will opt for carbon-pollution-free on-site power generation through wind and/or solar or solar power. other options. He talks about switching army vehicles from fuel to battery-powered electricity. Vehicle electrification is indeed a major strategy in this regard.

A 5 MW solar power system was installed at the U.S. Army’s Fort Campbell base in Kentucky in 2017.

Realizing that tanks are a particularly difficult vehicle to convert to electric power, the report emphasizes the early electrification of lighter vehicles. He says that by 2035 he will try to electrify all of his non-tactical vehicles – the trucks and cars that transport people and goods to bases.

It should be noted that the US Department of Defense is the largest consumer of oil in the world and, therefore, one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. It has accounted for between 77% and 80% of all federal government energy consumption since 2001.

The US military – a major polluter

Of course, a 2019 study of military fuel consumption and climate impact by Neta C. Crawford of Brown University says the U.S. military consumed the second-to-last amount of fuel compared to other forces, behind only the Marine Corps. Oil consumption depends on the function of a particular service. While tanks like the Abrams can get less than a mile per gallon, naval rigs and air force fighters burn the most.

A B-2 bomber, which contains over 25,600 gallons of jet fuel, burns 4.28 gallons per mile and emits over 250 metric tons of greenhouse gases over a distance of 6,000 nautical miles. The KC-135R in-flight refueling tanker consumes approximately 4.9 gallons per mile.

B-2 bomber
The B-2 bomber (Wikimedia Commons)

In fact, taking into account the fuel consumption of the world’s major military powers, some scientists have estimated that together, armies and their supporting industries could account for up to 5% of global emissions: more than civil aviation. and navigation combined.

Dr Stuart Parkinson, executive director of Scientists for Global Responsibility, says“I estimate that the carbon emissions of the world’s armed forces and the industries that supply their equipment are on the order of 5% of the world total.

But that does not include carbon emissions from the impacts of war – covering sources such as fires, deforestation, healthcare for survivors and post-conflict reconstruction. In a year when emissions are high – like in 1991, when fires raged through Kuwait’s oil fields – that could be as high as 1%. Thus, the total military carbon footprint could be 6%.

As such, this would make it a more polluting sector than, say, civil aviation. And, of course, we must not forget all the other profoundly negative impacts of war. ”

The US military is turning to drones. (via Twitter)

However, it must be emphasized that, aware of the worrying climate impacts, the United States has reduced the consumption of fossil fuels by its military. Studies suggest that DOD’s total annual emissions have fallen from a peak of 85 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2004 to 59 million metric tons in 2017.

This was done by improving the fuel efficiency of military vehicles, increasing military use of electricity from renewable sources, and reducing carbon pollution.

In fact, this concern over climate change is believed to be one of the main reasons forces are turning to increased use of smaller, more fuel-efficient robotic aircraft – drones – as replacements for manned military aircraft.

How is India?

Interestingly, in India too, work is underway to produce biofuel. In November last year, a Dehradun-based research lab won provisional approval from the government to produce biofuel for Indian Air Force (IAF) military jets.

The technology, developed by the Indian Petroleum Institute (CSIR-IIP), a constituent laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, has undergone evaluation tests and trials over the past three years.

Earlier on January 26, 2019, an AN-32 plane, filled with blended biofuel, flew over Raj Path in New Delhi during Republic Day celebrations. Subsequently, the performance and reliability of the Indian technology was tested when the Russian military aircraft landed and took off safely from Leh airport on January 30, 2020, at high altitude in harsh winter conditions.

The biofuel was also used on a civil and commercial demonstration flight operated by SpiceJet on August 27, 2018, from Dehradun to Delhi. These test flights with green fuel underscored the capabilities and commitment of Indian scientists and the IAF’s airmanship to serve a national cause, it is said.

An IAF AN-32 lands in Leh powered by indigenous biofuel, January 30, 2020. (via Twitter)

India’s biofuel can be produced from waste cooking oil, oils from trees, short-gestation oilseeds grown out of season by farmers, and waste extracts from edible oil processing units . It is claimed to reduce air pollution due to its ultra-low sulfur content compared to conventional jet fuel.

It can be noted that in 2013, the Indian government had asked the three services to reduce fuel consumption by 40%. But this was not due to worries about climate change, but to financial constraints at a time when global oil prices were soaring.

The Defense Force had spent over Rs 7,000 crore on petroleum products in 2012-13. This included Rs 4,090 crore spent by the Air Force and Rs 1,661 crore by the Navy, according to analyst Laxman Behera, then a researcher at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis.

Now that the United States has taken the lead in developing its roadmap to reduce its military’s use of fossil fuels, others, including India, are expected to follow suit.

  • Veteran author and journalist Prakash Nanda is Chairman of the Editorial Board of EurAsian Times and has been commentating on politics, foreign policy and strategic affairs for nearly three decades. A former National Fellow of the Indian Council for Historical Research and a recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize Fellowship, he is also a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. CONTACT: [email protected]
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