Report | April 13, 2022

Evaluation of the Department of Defense’s Efforts to Address the Climate Resilience of U.S. Military Installations in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic (DODIG-2022-083)

Evaluations

Publicly Released: April 15, 2022

 

Objective

The objective of this evaluation was to determine the extent to which the DoD has addressed the climate resilience of U.S. military installations in the Arctic and sub-Arctic.

 

Background

In the past 5 years, extreme weather and changing climate have caused hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of damage in the United States. In 2019, a DoD report to Congress on the effects of climate change on military installations called the effects of a changing climate a national security issue, with potential impacts to DoD missions, operational plans, and installations. Public law, DoD directives, and recently released DoD Facilities Criteria require DoD installations to address climate and energy risks and threats to installation infrastructure, assets, and missions.

The extent of climate change is more significant in the Arctic than in most other parts of the world. The DoD’s Arctic Strategy recognizes that the Arctic has direct implications for U.S. national security interests. The DoD is investing in resilient installation infrastructure and assets in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions to support increased Arctic operations and enhanced Arctic awareness.

 

Finding

U.S. military installation leaders at the six Arctic and sub-Arctic installations we visited did not conduct installation resilience assessments and planning required by DoD directive and public law. DoD Directive 4715.21, “Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience” (2016), requires DoD Components to integrate climate change considerations into DoD Component policy, guidance, plans, and operations. In addition, 10 U.S.C. § 2864 (2020) requires commanders of major military installations to identify, assess, and develop plans to address military installation resilience and environmental risks and threats to assets, infrastructure, and mission. However, most installation leaders at the six installations we visited in the Arctic and sub-Arctic region were unfamiliar with military installation resilience planning requirements, processes, and tools, and did not comply with requirements to identify current and projected environmental risks, vulnerabilities, and mitigation measures or incorporate these considerations into plans and operations.

These conditions occurred because of a lack of DoD and Service Component emphasis on installation climate resilience. Specifically,

  • military installation leaders focused on existing weather and energy challenges rather than analyzing their installations’ infrastructure, assets, and mission exposure and vulnerability to climate change;
     
  • the DoD and Service Components did not provide guidance for implementing military installation
     
  • installation leaders lacked resources to analyze and assess climate change.

 

Recommendations

We recommend that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment incorporate 10 U.S.C. §2864 (2020) master planning requirements for major military installations into DoD climate change adaptation and resilience policy.

We further recommend that the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment:

  • establish priorities, develop milestones, and identify planning and training resources for the Department of the Army; and
     
  • establish Department of the Army installation orders requiring installation commanders to identify climate risks, conduct assessments, determine climate vulnerabilities, and identify and plan for climate resilience measures for current and future climate changes in installation master plans, in accordance with DoD Directive 4715.21, Army Directive 2020-08, and 10 U.S.C. § 2864 (2020).

Finally, we recommend that the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and Environment:

  • establish priorities, develop milestones, and identify planning and training resources; and
     
  • establish Department of the Air Force installation orders requiring installation commanders to identify climate risks, conduct assessments, determine climate vulnerabilities, and identify and plan for climate resilience measures for current and future climate changes in installation master plans, in accordance with DoD Directive 4715.21, Air Force Instruction 32-1015, and 10 U.S.C. § 2864 (2020).

 

Management Comments and Our Response

The Senior Executive performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment concurred with the recommendation to incorporate Federal master planning requirements into DoD environmental policy. On October 7, 2021, the White House released the “DoD Climate Adaptation Plan,” which fully addressed our recommendation. Therefore, this recommendation is closed.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment concurred with the recommendation to develop and establish priorities, milestones, orders, measures, and planning and training resources for Army installation commanders to use to identify climate-related risks and vulnerabilities. The Army published its Climate Strategy on February 8, 2022, and is beginning work on its Climate Strategy Implementation Plan. Additionally, the Army will publish a directive requiring the Army Components to use Installation Climate Resilience Planning to update Installation Master Plans no later than FY 2023. Comments from the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment met the intent of the recommendation; therefore, this recommendation is resolved, but will remain open. We will close the recommendation when the Army publishes its Climate Strategy Implementation Plan and its Climate Resilience Planning Directive.

The Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and Environment concurred with the recommendation to establish priorities, develop milestones, and identify planning and training resources for the Department of the Air Force. He stated that he was developing priorities and milestones for completion of Installation Climate Resilience Plans for major Department of the Air Force installations. Comments from the Assistant Secretary met the intent of the recommendation. We consider this recommendation resolved, but it will remain open. We will close the recommendation when the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and Environment publishes the Department of the Air Force priorities and milestones for completion of the Installation Climate Resilience Plans for the major Air Force installations.

The Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and Environment partially concurred with the recommendation requiring installation commanders to identify climate risks, conduct assessments, determine climate vulnerabilities, and identify and plan for current and future climate resilience measures. He stated that issuing installation orders was the responsibility of the commanders of Air Force Major Commands and Space Force Field Commands. Comments from the Assistant Secretary addressed the specifics of the recommendation. We consider this recommendation resolved, but it will remain open. We request that the Assistant Secretary, as a member of the Department of the Air Force Secretariat, oversee the Air Force Major Command and Space Force Field Command installation plans and actions to address the priorities and milestones for climate resilience in installation master plans. We followed up with Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and Environment officials after receiving their management comments on this recommendation, and they agreed to provide oversight. We will close this recommendation once the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and Environment provides a Department of the Air Force directive, orders, or other documentation to identify climate risks, conduct assessments, and determine climate vulnerabilities from the Major Commands and Field Commands.

 

This report is a result of Project No. D2021-DEV0PC-0106.000