National Guard Response Considerations to U.S. Climate Change

  • September 17, 2016
  • Mr. Elver Sherrell Crow

The President and the Secretary of Defense recognize global climate change as a national security risk in the 2015 National Security Strategy and a Department of Defense report to Congress. Two significant implications for the United States are sea-level rise affecting coastal areas (particularly during severe storms) and drought-induced wild land fires in the western part of the country. The National Guard provides significant defense support to civil authorities during emergency response to events in these categories. This paper measures the Guard’s “Essential 10” mission capabilities against the emergency support functions used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a framework to evaluate adequacy of the distribution of National Guard units to respond to coastal flooding and wild land fires. It proposes a number of force structure changes across the Army National Guard to better align “Essential 10” capabilities against these two climate-related threats. Finally, the author offers an assessment of the risk these changes might pose to future global National Guard combat missions.