DOD exercise points to Strategies for the Western Hemisphere Can Combat Climate Change DOD Exercise Points to Ways Western Hemisphere Can Combat Climate Change Department of Defense


The hurricane Ian that ripped through the Caribbean and devastated Puerto Rico and decimated parts of Florida is perhaps the latest reminder that changes in the weather are already taking place creating new burdens and expenses for people around the world.

Daniel Erickson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Western Hemisphere affairs, and Kristina O’Brien, a member of the Joint Staff, helmed a tabletop exercise to study the impact climate change could affect the Western Hemisphere and examine how to deal with the increasing severe natural disasters and storms.

DOD frequently works with aid to civilian agencies during aid to humanitarian relief operations. The logistics and personnel capabilities can be the crucial difference between life and death for the victims.

The tabletop activity was called “Precipitous Storm” and the purpose was to understand the ways climate change would “irrevocably alter the setting that the department is operating in,” Erickson wrote in an article on the outcomes from the exercises.

He said that climate changes, added will result in new operational requirements for DOD and may undermine current capabilities.

The Western Hemisphere is susceptible to changes in the climate and the country is likely to be affected, as well as neighboring countries to the west. Tabletop exercises “envisioned climate-related scenarios that could occur in 2037 and then discussions on the ways in which DOD along with the other interagency agencies will need to react, and the steps we can take now in order to be better prepared to minimize the risks posed by climate change,” Erickson said in the report.

The exercise has highlighted the need for better capabilities across the hemisphere as well as more coordination between interagency partners, and greater cooperation between countries in the area, stated.

This exercise has brought together numerous DOD personnel, including members of U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Southern Command and interagency partners.

Erickson wants to have more tabletop exercises conducted in conjunction with partners from the region. He also would prefer to have DOD cooperate more closely with partners within the region to develop their capabilities. He would also like include a climate change component to any table-top exercise that are sponsored by DOD.

The exercise actually did provide a roadmap for how the department could prepare for the challenges that come with climate change, stated DOD officials. The officials stated that it was clear that the United States really needs a whole-of-government coordination system to create actions and strategies to be competitive in the new arena caused through climate change.