DOD establishes climate change working group

By Tony Bertuca / March 10, 2021 at 4:05 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has established a new climate change working group to coordinate the Pentagon's response to President Biden's executive order designating climate change as a key national security threat.

The working group will be chaired by Joe Bryan, a special assistant to Austin for climate.

"Climate change presents a growing threat to U.S. national security interests and defense objectives," Austin wrote in a memo establishing the group. "The changing climate is altering the global security and operating environments, impacting our missions, plans and installation."

The working group will consist of some of the top officials at DOD, including the under secretary of defense for policy, the USD for acquisition and sustainment, the USD for research and engineering, the military secretaries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of the National Guard Bureau and the director of cost assessment and program evaluation.

Currently, DOD only has two Senate-confirmed officials in place: Austin and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks. All other senior civilian posts are held by acting officials.

"The working group will consult with Congress on a bipartisan basis and work with interagency partners to ensure our efforts support a whole-of-government approach," Austin wrote. "Whether it is increasing platform efficiency to improve freedom of action in contested logistic environments or deploying new energy solutions to strengthen resilience of key capabilities at installations, our mission objectives are well aligned with our climate goals."

Meanwhile, DOD has included climate change in its ongoing fiscal year 2022 budget review with an eye toward "initial options for investment and set groundwork for additional investments during the FY 2023 to FY 2027 review cycle."