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New Report From Top Military Leaders Finds Current US Energy Policy Poses Serious Threat to National Security

Study Finds Fossil Fuels & National Grid Threaten Military, Economic, Climate Security

Identifies Critical Opportunities for DoD Leadership & Innovation

WASHINGTON, May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- America's energy posture constitutes a serious and urgent threat to national security -- militarily, diplomatically and economically, according to a blue-ribbon panel of top-ranking retired admirals and generals. In a report released today entitled "Powering America's Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security" the military leaders warn that continuing business as usual is perilous and recommend immediate action to address the nation's long-term energy profile. By addressing its own security needs, the Department of Defense can help lead the transformation of U.S. energy use as an innovation incubator for new energy technologies.

Moving beyond recent studies on the dangers of imported oil, this new report finds that fossil fuels, as well as the nation's fragile electric grid, pose significant security threats to military mission and the country, and are "exploitable by those who wish to do us harm." Issued by the Military Advisory Board (MAB) of CNA, a nonprofit research organization, the report identifies a series of "converging risks" associated with future energy choices, and concludes "diversifying our energy sources and moving away from fossil fuels where possible is critical to our future energy security."

"It's a sobering but honest, and necessary assessment," said MAB chairman General Charles F. "Chuck" Wald, USAF (Ret.). "As military planners and as responsible public servants we cannot turn a blind eye to the dangerous realities of our energy situation. The current recession is no excuse for inaction. If we don't address the fossil fuel issue now, we will see more price volatility, with steeper spikes and shorter cycles between spikes. We are already paying a penalty for not looking into the future."

"There is a relationship between the major challenges we're facing. Energy, security, economics, climate change - these things are connected," former U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gordon R. Sullivan said in the report.

Due to the destabilizing nature of increasingly scarce resources, the impacts of energy demand and climate change are likely to increasingly drive military missions in this century, according to the report. The first priority for the new Administration, the MAB recommends, is to clearly and fully integrate energy security and climate change goals into national security and military planning.

"Increasing demand for, and dwindling supplies of, fossil fuels will lead to instability. In addition, the effects of global climate change will pose serious threats to water supplies and agricultural production, leading to intense competition for essentials," said MAB member Vice Admiral (ret.) Dennis McGinn, former commander of the U.S. Third Fleet, and deputy chief of Naval Operations, Warfare Requirements and Programs. "The U.S. cannot assume that we will be untouched by these conflicts. We have to understand how these conflicts could play out, and prepare for them."

The MAB, which produced the landmark 2007 report "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change" is comprised of retired 2, 3- and 4-star flag and general officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The board includes a former Army Chief of Staff, commanders of U.S. forces in global regions, a former shuttle astronaut and NASA administrator, and experts in energy, planning, deployment, procurement and logistics.

The 2007 report found that climate change constitutes a "threat multiplier" because projected impacts will exacerbate existing security risks. Building on the 2007 report, the new report states, "Our approach to energy and our approach to climate change have profound impacts on each other - and both have impacts on our national security."

National security risks resulting from the current U.S. energy posture identified in the report include:

  • U.S. dependence on oil - not just foreign oil - weakens international leverage, undermines foreign policy and leaves us vulnerable to unstable or hostile regimes.
  • Inefficient use of and over reliance on oil burdens the military, reduces combat effectiveness, and exacts a huge price tag - in dollars and lives.
  • U.S. dependency on fossil fuels undermines economic stability critical to national security.
  • A fragile domestic electric grid makes US military installations, and their critical infrastructure, unnecessarily vulnerable to incident, whether deliberate or accidental.

Looking forward, the report identifies the following converging risks associated with future energy choices:

  • The market for fossil fuels will be shaped by finite supplies and increasing demand. Continuing our heavy reliance on these fuels is a security risk.
  • Regulatory frameworks driven by climate change concerns will increase the costs - both economic and geopolitical - of using carbon-based fuels.
  • Insecurity driven by ongoing climate change has the potential to add significantly to the mission burden of the U.S. military in fragile regions of the world.

"In our view, confronting these converging risks is critical to ensuring America's secure energy future," the report states. "Consistency with our emerging climate policies should shape our energy and national security planning; we should not pursue energy options inconsistent with our national response to climate change."

The Military Advisory Board calls on the Department of Defense (DoD) to take a leadership role - for government and the nation - in transforming America's energy posture. "By addressing its own energy security needs," the report finds "DoD can stimulate the market for new energy technologies and vehicle efficiencies."

The Military Advisory Board outlines "A Roadmap for Energy Security" to help focus DoD's investments in a strategic manner in order to mitigate its highest energy-related risks and optimize fiscal resources through a series of priorities.

  • Priority 1: Energy security and climate change goals should be clearly integrated into national security and military planning processes.
  • Priority 2: DoD should design and deploy systems to reduce the burden that inefficient energy use places on our troops as they engage overseas.
  • Priority 3: DoD should understand its use of energy at all levels of operations. DoD should know its carbon bootprint.
  • Priority 4: DoD should transform its use of energy at installations through aggressive pursuit of energy efficiency, smart grid technologies, and electrification of its vehicle fleet.
  • Priority 5: DoD should expand the adoption of distributed and renewable energy generation at its installations.
  • Priority 6: DoD should transform its long-term operational energy posture through investments in low-carbon liquid fuels that satisfy military performance requirements.

"Confronting this challenge is paramount for the military; to achieve the endstate, we must have a national approach," the report states. Securing America's energy future will require the active and consistent participation of governments at all levels, as well as that of all Americans, according to the report.

Writing and research support for the report came from CNA, a not-for-profit research organization which serves the public interest by providing in-depth analysis and results-oriented solutions to help government leaders choose the best course of action in setting policy and managing operations. The full report and additional information is available at www.PoweringAmericasDefense.org

SOURCE CNA Military Advisory Board

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