African Unity

By Jason Sherman / August 10, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Security challenges caused by increasing global temperatures offer the United States and China new opportunities for military cooperation, particularly in Africa. That is a finding offered by Rymn Parsons -- a naval reservist and attorney with Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Norfolk, VA -- in a new monograph published by the Army War College.

The U.S. military is the best vehicle, most notably in areas in which conflict is occurring or where civil government is ineffective or not present, for enabling diplomacy, development, and defense, as part of a preventative, collective security construct. The military’s reach, capability, and durability in these circumstances are obvious (but not limitless) advantages.

So, too, is the military’s capacity to connect and coordinate external and internal entities, not merely indigenous and foreign security forces, but also regional and international governing organizations and non-governmental organizations. Sub-Saharan Africa would be a particularly good place to address the challenges that climate change is causing and will produce. It is also a particularly good place to take advantage of opportunities that environmental engagement offers. Working together with African militaries, AFRICOM and the PLA ((China's People's Liberation Army)) can enable security and stability projects focused on global warming and other climate change phenomena.

The intelligence community last year concluded that climate change will degrade U.S. military readiness by diverting key transportation assets and combat support forces. The Pentagon, at the direction of Congress, is currently examining the national security implications of climate change in the Quadrennial Defense Review.