President Obama and congressional leaders decry global climate change as a threat to the security and stability of all nations, including the United States. There is also increasing momentum to demonstrate results at the United Nations global climate change negotiations at Copenhagen in December.
Against this backdrop, the Defense Department is facing mounting pressure to elevate global climate change as a top national security priority. This is currently under consideration by the National Defense University in war games and may be addressed as part of the Quadrennial Defense Review due in February, and as part of the Department of State's new Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.
In its strategic review, the Defense Department should examine internal processes dealing with energy issues and its relationships with sister federal agencies.
Congress recently provided the department a great opportunity to implement such a wide-ranging, policy-setting perspective. As part of the 2009 Defense Appropriations Bill, Congress required the Defense Department to establish a directorate of energy policy. Once this new organization is positioned and staffed within the office of the secretary of defense, it will provide much needed guidance and direction on energy policy and responsibilities throughout the department.
Having the deputy secretary of defense simultaneously sign out a comprehensive energy directive defining goals, visions and delegated authorities would be a timely, productive reinforcement. The military services and components would then have clear direction and responsibility to establish their own high-profile energy policy offices and the appropriate authority to commit funding and personnel resources necessary for implementation throughout the regional commands and field operations.
When such structures are in place and fully functioning, the department will be able to address its energy-related operational needs more holistically and comprehensively. For instance, the services will be able to integrate more effectively at the installation level energy renewable programs with those of energy efficiency, less encumbered by traditional organizational stove piping which has limited the synergistic successes of each program. The military components will be better prepared to comply with new regulatory requirements such as greenhouse gas reporting and monitoring, commencing in 2010, and the administration's new executive order on energy.
Further examination could more easily occur on such pressing concerns as exposure of certain bases, particularly their power generating facilities, to flooding. The military components and the Pacific Command could more easily address the over reliance of military operations in Hawaii on imported oil from non-friendly nations. …