STEVE INSKEEP: Good evening. Can everyone hear okay in the back? If you cannot hear, this is your opportunity to warn us of that.
Welcome to this discussion of "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change." Thanks for coming. My name is Steve Inskeep. I'm with National Public Radio. I'm here to be your moderator. And on either side of me are panelists who were involved in the preparation of this report.
What I'd like to do is introduce them one by one, as briefly as possible. Each will spend some time making an opening statement, and then we will have a discussion, a question-and-answer session, in which you will be increasingly invited to take a hand.
And let's begin with the chairman of the panel that put this together, the military advisory panel, General Gordon Sullivan. He's a former chief of staff of the U.S. Army. I could go on for quite some time about your accomplishments, General, but let me just say, for this moment, that he oversaw much of the transition or the beginning of the transition from the Cold War to whatever it was that was going to come after for the U.S. Army. And now he's arguing here for a new transition in thinking.
So, General Sullivan, go right ahead.
GENERAL GORDON R. SULLIVAN: Thanks, Steve.
First of all, let me introduce my colleagues here: Admiral Joe Lopez, one of the 11 members and -- I'm sorry -- Admiral Joe Lopez and General Paul Kern. Both of these gents participated with me and eight other people in a study for CNA Corporation looking at the implications of global climate change on the national security for the United States of America.
It took us a little bit over six months to address the problem. We began by receiving -- the first briefing we received was from Mr. Jim -- Dr. Jim Hansen, arguably one of the top scientists in the world, in the United States, certainly. And he never got through the first sentence and we were attacking him. I think that's my shorthand of saying that we all came to this with a certain degree of skepticism.
It went on from there, and it became apparent that if we were to do what we were asked to do by Bob Murray and his people at CNA and Sherri Goodman, who was our mentor, that we had to treat the science seriously, but we were really looking at trends. And we had to treat what we were being told as we have as military people. That is, okay, there are differing opinions; people are giving us a certain amount of information; we're not sure how much of it is precisely right, but we have to look at the trends and not seek a hundred percent certainty, because frankly a hundred percent certainty in this subject area will take you down roads that we don't necessarily need to travel.
So anyway, after listening to a lot, we came up with a framework which should enable us to look at what we were being told on a trend-like basis, and we came to certain conclusions. And that is, the risks are so high in this area and potentially catastrophic, that I think the level of agreement was that we needed to bring some recommendations forward, which my colleagues Admiral Lopez and General Kern will discuss with you. We made the call.
And lastly, I would say, you know, most of us were in the service throughout the Cold War, or certainly the latter part of the Cold War. All of us served for over 30 years. Most of us retired in the '90s. And there was huge dollars spent, huge dollars spent on that conflict. Very high levels of catastrophe could have occurred, and by spending and military preparedness, we were able to keep that under control. In our view, there's a lot of uncertainty here, but we need to be paying attention to what might happen and what is happening around the world based on climate change.
So, Paul, over to you. And why don't you --
INSKEEP: If I might just interrupt for a moment to make a couple of announcements that I neglected to before -- (chuckling) -- if you would join me in turning off your cell phones. If you did not already do that, folks in the audience, I'd appreciate that.
And I neglected to say also that this meeting is on the record, as many of you know.
And General Kern was the commander of U.S. Army Materiel Command, adviser to Army Research, Development and Acquisition, among many other positions. Go right ahead, General.
GENERAL PAUL J. KERN: Thank you.
The genesis of this study, as General Sullivan pointed out, led us down a lot of paths of disagreement, and trying to resolve those issues, I think, led us to the conclusion that what the military does very well is assess risk. And we did it, then, in the context of how do we look at this battlefield of the world that we are going to have to fight on, and put the risk of what climate change may bring into some context of what those military aspects of it might be.
And I kind of boiled it down to some very basic ideas from a very brilliant guy that I knew, who passed away a few years ago, who was a Nobel Laureate, Dr. Rick Smalley, who categorized the top 10 problems of the world that he saw, and he put into categories, in the top four, energy, water, the environment and food. And I thought of that in the context of what we in the military have been doing to try to promote stability in the world and to try to address, when things become unstable, what were the causes? And much of it boils down to the inability to get to those top four items; the ability to access energy, the ability to access food, the ability to have clean water to drink, the ability to have water to irrigate your fields and grow crops so that you can have food. And the environment, the climate that we operate in has a great deal of what impacts that.
And so the ability, then, to tie those pieces together formulated this concept that there are military aspects that are created by unstable parts of the world. And we saw that, certainly, in the Middle East; we saw that in Africa; we see it potentially in other parts of the world. And we noticed that the people of the world live very close to the coasts, and it's because they have access, then, to these fundamentals of life -- the ability to create the food, access to the water, access to energy.
And so many of the regions which we found were unstable, which military action resulted in, was losses of one of those capabilities. And so that gave us a fundamental way of saying that instability in these areas as a result of changes to climate -- and we noted that the Sahara Desert, in the briefings we were getting -- was causing increases in the diameter of it of about a mile a year -- huge areas, which were forcing people to move; which caused immigrations into Europe, into the Balkan areas, into other parts of Europe, which were destabilizing two continents. So we saw this repeatedly in different patterns which were around the world, and said these are things which creep up on you. What you cannot see in changes in weather patterns day to day, so climate changes take periods of time to occur. But if you don't start doing something and you cannot react to it, we have avoided -- or we have stumbled into a risk area that we should be doing something about. So putting that together with the planning that we do for risk created, then, the framework for our recommendations that we see that we need to take action to reduce those risks now.
I'll turn it then over to our shipmate, Admiral Lopez.
INSKEEP: Admiral Thomas Joseph Lopez, senior commander in -- held a number of senior commands, I should say, in Europe, including the command of the Bosnia peacekeeping forces. And am I correct in your biography that you're one of only two four-stars to come from direct commissioning in enlisted ranks? Is that correct, sir?
ADMIRAL T. JOSEPH LOPEZ: I was fortunate, yes.
INSKEEP: (Laughs.) Proceed, please.
LOPEZ: Maybe just to build a little bit on what Gordon and Paul have said. Although Steve asked me, when I came in, he said what attracted you to this forum, this study? And I've sort of been a student of instability for some time out of necessity, driven by my experiences in Vietnam as a young officer, and then culminating in Bosnia, and then, actually before Bosnia, running Navy's programs and budgets. And I had to defend the Navy's programs and budgets on the Hill, and I didn't have an enemy. The Cold War was over and everybody was getting some sun, and nobody was really worried about the next war, whatever that would be. And that brought me to a couple of realizations.
One was that we weren't well prepared for low-intensity conflict, we called it then, and as I said, we needed an enemy. We came up with an enemy, and we actually termed it "the enemy is instability," and we weren't very well prepared. When I -- when I went to Bosnia and then I as I watched terrorism grow in the intervening years since then, I still feel that we have a reactive posture, and it's hard to catch up when you're reacting rather than being proactive; acting in order to prevent conflict rather than to win -- just win conflict.
Don't get me wrong, I think that -- I do believe that we -- if we're the leaders in the world in many areas -- and we certainly are as the only superpower -- we ought to be shall we say projecting influence, positive influence, not just projecting power. I'm also not naive -- you have to have power in order to project influence. But all those things when you look at climate change -- and I certainly -- just as I came in as a skeptic, but I'm a believer that it's coming. I'm not a scientist or -- but I've heard enough that I believe that it's coming; I just don't know when, and I won't get into those arguments as to causal factors and all that.
It's just that I've learned in looking at instability that this is going to be a huge factor when Bangladesh disappears, or my early experiences in Vietnam when the Mekong Delta is underwater, or the deserts move north. All of that's going to have forced migrations -- high employment, religious or political extremists that begin to have influence, as they always do, to the poor, the young, the unemployed. So those kinds of thoughts drew me to this, and I've thought more about how do we prepare for this in terms of national security and global security.
And I guess the last thing I would leave you with, this is not just a military problem. It's -- I think of it in terms of a much larger spectrum -- economics and business, politics and diplomacy, military and security interests. So the military or the DOD could be a catalyst, but it can't do it all, and for that matter, it's a global economy, and the United States can't do it all. Coalitions have to be formed, and we have to be positively proactive in doing all the things to combat the effects of this and to be prepared for the instability that we will have to deal with and to try and, well, frankly, make the world more safe and secure for our grandchildren and our great grandchildren and beyond.
INSKEEP: Let me pose a few questions for the panel, and then you'll have your opportunity for the balance of the hour.
General Sullivan, if I might start with you, you indicated, I think, that everyone on this panel was initially skeptical of the significance of global warming to national security questions. I'm going to assume that that panel isn't some way representative of the U.S. military as a whole.
Can you explain what your thinking was at the beginning, because that might give us an idea of where many people's thinking is at this moment up until the time that you might persuade them otherwise.
SULLIVAN: Well, minor exceptions, and there were a couple of, actually, major exceptions. Admiral Truly is an astronaut. He is quite familiar with science and the subject at hand, having been -- he's the only one on the panel who actually looked at the Earth from up in the air, way up in the air. So he has a pretty good perspective of what's going on here from that -- (laughter) -- from that perspective anyway.
Admiral Skip Bowman is a scientist. He was in charge of the Navy's nuclear program, and he's in the nuclear energy world right now. Those two gents were very highly qualified in this area. There are some others who are engineers. Paul, I think, himself is a mechanical engineer. He's a mechanical engineer, so he's a scientist. But -- well certainly an engineer and technically competent. (Laughter.)
KERN: Not a scientist.
SULLIVAN: But I think for the most part, Steve, what most of us knew about this we were getting from the paper. And I think in my own case, I don't want to translate my experience or my feeling to them, although I detected that we were the same. Every discussion quickly went from 50,000 feet right down into the synapses. And it's 0.06, all kinds of numbers. And then you get into a big discussion about whether that's precisely right or precisely wrong. And oh, by the way, it's on a cycle and it used to happen and it was like this four million years ago and so forth and so on.
And I think we all figured, look, we've got to get out of this, because we can't handle it. So that's when we raised our sight level. Our sight picture is much higher.
And I think to Joe's point, to Admiral Lopez's point, this is national security implications, not national defense implications. In other words, we are trying to keep our sights up, and what are the implications if deserts keep expanding, if droughts become more and more apparent. And are we getting threat multipliers in places like Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic?
And oh, by the way, why is it that we have these migrations from south to north? Central Europe -- our own hemisphere is probably not as -- you have to be careful in our own hemisphere, whether the migration is moving south to north because of climate change. Well, there may be some of that, but you have to be careful that you don't go off on a wild tangent on that.
But at any rate, that's where we were, lifting our sights and getting out of the weeds and not asking for 100 percent certainty. Who gets 100 percent certainty? You don't get it.
INSKEEP: Are you saying that the risk here is simply that you will take problems that already exist and they will become worse? Marginal countries and ones that are --
SULLIVAN: Exactly, look, we know -- I mean, I think there are people in this room who are perfectly -- certainly more qualified than I to say this. But at the heart of the Somalia crisis you will find drought, and drought caused famine. Famine caused NGOs, many of which are probably in the room, to show up, including the United States of America and the United Nations, with food. The warlords started to control the food; they wanted to control the food. They then started controlling it and selling it and letting the other people -- letting the other sides starve. That caused migration -- Kenya, Ethiopia -- and you get instability. Those countries couldn't handle it.
And that's what's going on in Darfur, same thing. Darfur -- drought, the herders try to move in and take agricultural land, and you have a clash of religions and on and on and on. You get a threat multiplier. None of which is very good for us.
LOPEZ: Look at Turkey and Syria. They've been at each other over water and could go to war over water in the future. As Paul alluded, the paucity of natural resources --
INSKEEP: Explain for the laymen, if you would, how has the conflict over water played out between Turkey and Syria? What are they arguing over --
LOPEZ: Well, I think waters of the Euphrates -- so if Turkey dams it up and Syria doesn't have any water, as an example, so if in the future climate changes, there's less melt, less water available, dams appear to take care of their own population. That's hypothetical, of course, but those sort of things could happen. That's just one example. That could happen anyplace in the world.
INSKEEP: Let me ask for other examples if I might. Your report indicates that in addition to some countries like Somalia that were already in trouble before they ever had a drought, presumably, that there are seemingly stable governments today that could be destabilized by this. You just mentioned an example, a hypothetical example of Turkey, or Syria seems relatively stable now. Can you give other examples of countries where the United States might have major interests involved that could become unstable, that seem stable and not worth worrying about now?
KERN: Oh, I think you could look at Bangladesh, which may be on the borderline of stability as we see it right now. And the tipping point could very well be a climate change which inundates a very -- area where a huge population lives on the coast. And you look at all of Asia, and you start looking along the coastlines, and you find that the majority of the population is living in that part of the world. And so significant changes in sea levels -- and in some cases, you have reverse flows of what's happening; in one case, you're going to have a drought, and in another case, you're going to have flooding. As you look at the ice caps that occur in the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateaus, you have different changes which are taking place. And I think the report does a very good job of summarizing that so that -- we tried to keep it in terms geographically which showed the potential that's going to be out there for these changes to cause stability to become very fragile and result in instabilities which we then have to react to.
And we saw those examples in earthquakes and the tsunamis that occurred in the Pacific, where we really are the only country, with support of others, that has the capability to move in, and it's through our defense establishment that has a lot of that capability. And so again, when you come back to the military assessment of it, regardless of what the cause was, we got pulled into it, and it destabilizes our ability to react in the best interests of our national security if we aren't prepared for these kinds of things.
SULLIVAN: I think if you look at Katrina -- I don't think there's anybody in the room who would argue that the response to Katrina did not need military support in that crisis, okay? The United States had struggled with Katrina. Bangladesh -- I mean, it's hard to imagine Bangladesh with that kind of a crisis, or Lagos. Lagos -- if you fly into Lagos, Nigeria, where we get the -- well, I don't know how much we get, but somebody in the room probably knows how much oil we get --
INSKEEP: The fifth-largest exporter to the United --
SULLIVAN: Yeah, the fifth-largest export -- the place is on stilts. (Laughter.)
LOPEZ: I think we get more oil from there than we do from the Middle East --
INSKEEP: Well, not -- from some nations in the Middle East; more directly from Nigeria than Kuwait. It's very significant.
LOPEZ: Yeah. Yeah.
SULLIVAN: We could not -- you would not -- with everything else going on, I don't believe that country could handle any kind of a disaster with rising water, floods or -- whether the floods are from inland or the ocean.
INSKEEP: What happens to China and India? Anyone want to take that on?
SULLIVAN: The Himalayas, as Paul said -- if the glaciers and the snowmelt is not there -
LOPEZ: What do they do with all the people from Bangladesh?
INSKEEP: Then there's that.
LOPEZ: Well, that's a big problem, in my view. Those are the people that become terrorists. Those are the people that cause the next war of instability, whether it's terrorism or a different type, because they don't have jobs. They perhaps have high birthrates.
You find the same difficulties -- nowadays, if you look at -- and it's -- I wouldn't go so far to say it's done by climate change, although some of it, as Gordon's already pointed out -- but you look at North Africa, and -- I believe the last statistics I saw was that the average age was less than 20, and the average age in Europe is more than 35. And just that statistic alone tells you there are problems. And those areas, whether it's Bangladesh or Lagos or wherever the poorer areas, when the people are displaced forcibly, it just exacerbates the problem.
INSKEEP: Let me ask about alternatives, some of which you discuss in the report. If I were to summarize them crudely, some possibilities that would occur to a layman, you could argue to mitigate or stop global warming in some way; you could argue for a differently equipped military, a special global warming Abrams tank with better air-conditioning, or something; or, you know, ships that are better prepared to fight in the Arctic, which might be an ocean that has to be contested because it's clear war. Or you could simply argue for a different strategic way of thinking. Which of those alternatives would you endorse?
KERN: I'll start. I think clearly our intent is on the strategic thinking part and the leadership role that the United States can play. One of our conclusions clearly is one of the strengths of the Defense Department is that it plans, and it plans based on risks, and then we take these factors, like climate change, and we consider that a threat multiplier, that raises the risk level of those areas. And so we start a strategic planning operation that looks at national security based on an assessment of those risks. And that's clearly one of the indications I think of our report that we would like to see more work done. And we have some agreement, I think, coming out of the National Intelligence Estimate taking that on as part of our strategic assessment right now, which has been debated and is getting support.
INSKEEP: Making sure that the NIE takes this factor into account explicitly. I suppose indirectly it does in some ways because there's often talk of water shortages and water wars, and that kind of thing. But you want more than that?
LOPEZ: You can do predictive analysis. I mean that's what he's going to do. The intelligence community -- just to follow on with Paul -- you want to look ahead because you have limited resources. Take Africa as a whole, and you only have resources to intervene, say, in four countries, to make it simplistic, which four, and when, based on what -- politics, diplomacy, economics business or security interests?
INSKEEP: And let me just ask, because I asked this question before, does that require a major change in the way that the military thinks today, the way the military sees the world, or the way the national security establishment sees the world?
LOPEZ: I think that -- I certainly know my own service has evolved. I mean, look at the numbers of submarines as compared to the Cold War. The Army's evolving too -- more expeditionary. I think you do have to. And there will be more changes as the world changes. I mean, you have to be -- you have to be flexible.
SULLIVAN: I think that -- yeah, to pick up on what Joe said, I think, first of all -- and we allude to it in here -- the U.S. should commit to a stronger national/international role. I think you could take that -- certainly it's, in my mind, follow-on to Kyoto, without getting into that -- all that that implies, I think we do have to take a role and we should take a role, would be my opinion, in follow-on to Kyoto.
I think that the United States, the military forces, the Department of Defense is well aware of the fact that we have to become more fuel efficient and more efficient in moving fuel. I don't know how many of you know it, but 70 percent of the weight that the United States Army carries on the battlefield is liquid -- petroleum products and water. And I think -- now, it's done by either pipelines which we lay, or by wheeled vehicle. And that is a huge, huge amount of weight to carry, burning fuel, contracting trucks and so forth, without going into all the details. And there's a lot of work being done in this area with lighter vehicles and more fuel-efficient vehicles, hybrid vehicles, nuclear-powered submarines, nuclear-powered ships, so forth and so on.
So I think the Department of Defense is actively seeking this. And I know that the combatant commanders are paying attention to this, including the new AFRICOM. It's not lost on any of these guys. Somebody asked me one day, is this a hard sell in the Pentagon? To the best of my knowledge, the answer to that is no, this is not a hard sell. Some of them were actually working on it anyway, and this is just strengthening their positions on it, I think. It's giving some of the staff officers another look at it. Paul would --
KERN: I would agree with that completely. We'll go back to your air conditioned Abrams tank, as you described it. When we did that and designed that back in the '60s and '70s, from the efficiency of the engine that's in there today it's extremely fuel-inefficient. Would we change that in our redesign for the future? You bet. It gives us both a military advantage from all of that fuel that we have to move -- and by the way, that's what General Sullivan used to ask me to do, is move that fuel. That's hard work and it requires a lot of investment. And so if you can change that, then you also have other opportunities.
There's also opportunities on our installations to be leaders in showing people the way to use other renewable sources of energy more efficiently. Just like everybody else, we have a lot of old coal-fired power plants on it. As we renew those things, we can take on leadership roles not just in the equipment and the way we fight it, as General Sullivan described, but also in the way we live and the kinds of things that we can do to show other people how effective we can be and how we can invest national resources to help that.
That argument then can be extended back to the earlier comment to China, who is contributing, clearly, to the CO2 that's in our atmosphere today, but we know because of their economic pursuits that they are building power plants to keep up with the demands of their industry at a rate of about one new one every week to 10 days. Can we help in that? Should we help in that? And can we be part of that as a solution -- going back to, again, a comment that you don't want to necessarily restart Kyoto, but you know there's things that you can do to make a difference?
INSKEEP: We've just begun this discussion, and I'd like to invite you to join it. I believe there's a microphone that's going to be passed around the room, and there it is back there. Let me just ask, before people start raising hands, remember that we are on the record. I'd like you to keep your questions concise and to the point if you can so we get as many people in as possible. And if you would just state your name and your affiliation when you stand.
Anybody like to start off? There's a pen right there. Whoever's got the pen near the back, why don't you grab it because you're closest to the microphone. I'll get you in a moment.
QUESTIONER: Steven Donehoo from Kissinger McClarty Associates. You've talked about the things that the armed forces can do to prepare itself to help on this issue, but have you thought about and have you considered the role that the armed forces will have in the future and whether or not it will move from being an armed forces that has a war-fighting role to one that has more of a disaster relief role?
SULLIVAN: Well, that's a good question, Steve. If you've been listening to the patter line on the TV related to the town that was destroyed in western Kansas, you might recall the governor -- and I'm surprised it's taken as long as it did, frankly. She said, the governor of Kansas said, "Well, our response was slow because our National Guard equipment was in Iraq and many of our troops are in Iraq, and the states around didn't have the equipment we needed when we needed it."
I believe we will hear more and more comments from the governors about the use of the National Guard, which the states use, as you know, in both roles, either the state role or the federal role, federalized to go to Iraq and Afghanistan, which they're doing now more and more.
I think Tony Zinni summed it up; pay now, pay later. We have a million soldiers in uniform, 500,000 in the Guard, 500,000 in the active Army. That's a lot to do given the level of natural disasters we're seeing in the United States -- fires in Georgia, fires in Florida, floods in the Midwest, tornadoes in the West, drought in the Southwest. Lots of demands.
So I think my answer is, we're going to do both whether we like it or not. And we're doing both right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. Everybody said we wouldn't, but we are. And I think pay now, pay later. And this is a multiplier. This subject is a multiplier, although, I will caution you, we did not go down -- this study does not take us down into our military roles. It's actually national security. What's the Department of Agriculture going to do? What is the USAID going to do? This is a national issue, and all elements -- I don't want to sound like Joe Nye here, but -- (laughter) -- the soft power -- the soft power of the United States is involved, all of it.
LOPEZ: Yeah, there has be partnership. That was thing that -- on the gist of your question. I know you didn't intend it that way, but how -- it was as though the military could do this alone and you cannot, as Gordon said. It's got to be partnership across that whole spectrum that I talked about. Economics and business people always get left out, it seems, and many times they lead in the sense of being there, wherever there is. And you know, it's a philosophy that if you want to influence events, you have to be there, and many times it's business and our State Department, they're there first, and the NGOs. And the military can be a catalyst for change, and it can be a partner, but it can't do it all.
KERN: And also, I'd like to add a comment. I don't think it's a case of either/or. We have to do both, and we always have. When I was in command in the Southeast, living in the state of Georgia, we dealt with hurricanes, and in one particular case, I can tell you we sent an infantry battalion in support of a town after a hurricane. Not really a very good organization to go do that. The next time it was a corps support unit that had medical transportation and supply, the kinds of things that they needed.
And when you're out in the far West, you fight fires, and so every summer, you have units that are on stand-by to go fight fires. And we don't do any of those things by ourselves; we do them in conjunction with the local communities, we do them in conjunction with the National Guard. And so all of those choices that we make from the strategic resources that we invest in our Department of Defense, I think, really have to address the ability to do both, not one or the other.
INSKEEP: The microphone is already close to the gentleman over here who had his hand up.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Gregory van der Vink, Department of Geosciences, Princeton University. I'm usually on the other side of this issue, but I'm -- it made me -- your discussion made me think of India. And in the first century of India, the monsoons failed several times, resulted in drought, famine and millions of deaths. The British, which were ruling India at the time, spent a lot of time predicting the monsoons and spending money on it; it didn't change anything. What ended the deaths associated with monsoons was in fact the end of British rule, not the better assessment of the monsoon prediction.
And Amartya Sen won the Nobel Prize in Economics for pointing out that there has never been a famine in a democracy. And climate change and natural hazards, while -- particularly natural hazards, which climate change will be manifested through, do serve as a test of government. But the overwhelming influence is in fact the test of government. The biggest predictor of the humanitarian impact of a natural disaster is not the magnitude of the event or even the population density in the area, but it's rather the democracy index of the nation in which it occurs.
So my question to you is: Given your assessment of the uncertainties and the national security implications, how does the uncertainty or the risk assessments that you do, how does the risk assessment of that amplifier, which is climate change, rack-and-stack, if you will, compared to the uncertainties associated with what the geopolitics is going to look like over the next several decades?
SULLIVAN: Okay, let me try to answer that the best way I can.
First of all, we didn't do -- we didn't get into the numbers, okay. What we did, though, we concluded, as you probably -- you have the data to support it, we concluded that it's a threat multiplier; that is you take drought, famine, disease, pestilence, whatever, and it multiplies the instability which is already there, either because of a lack of democracy or whatever.
I happen to know that there are people in the Pentagon and elsewhere who are looking at some metrics related to how would you measure democracy, stability, economics, use the metrics for -- the kind of metrics, I guess. And I think they're trying to become more precise on it, whether it's as a result of this project or not. I don't think it is. I think they've actually been doing it for some time. I think they're actually now maybe footnoting it as -- hey look, these guys said it. So what we're doing has validity -- or maybe, maybe it reinforces them; hopefully it reinforces them. But I think they're doing it.
And I betcha' there are some staff officers who would be very happy to talk to you about what you know about these subjects, because I know AFRICOM is trying to stand themselves up, and I know they're very concerned about it.
INSKEEP: When you say it's a multiplier, what you're saying in answer to his question is you're acknowledging it's not the only factor that causes a disaster.
SULLIVAN: Oh yeah, it's not the only factor. No, it's not the only factor. And government -- the abilities of a government to provide security, food, water, and all of that, and representative government, so that people can talk to their governments, and responsive governments.
KERN: I think the other point I'd make to it is, I think the risk is higher today than it's ever been. And that's one of the things we're suggesting is that part of our planning has to measure risk, and that we see this as a multiplier of that risk that's out there to instability.
The population of the U.S. has grown 100 million -- from 200 million to 300 million, since I joined the Army, was commissioned. But the size of the Defense Department is half. And so we have fewer people to deal with much larger populations around the world in much riskier conditions. And so your economics is one set of factors, but the other is just how do you accomplish the task.
INSKEEP: Who else has a question out here this evening?
Go right ahead, sir. The microphone's coming from your left -- or from your right.
QUESTIONER: Bob Winter. I'm with Arnold & Porter. I'd like to ask what might be to an extent a political question. I think it's fair to state that one thing your report suggests is a substantial increase in the amount of investment dealing with the issues you're addressing. And that raises the question as to where political support would likely come from. And one of the issues that seems relatively clear is that the American population as a whole would start on these issues with the skepticism that you gentlemen started on the issues, and that forthright discussion from the Department of Defense could have a significant impact on the level of political discussion.
To be specific, I think if the Department of Defense were to really make clear its view that this is a serious issue confronting national security and national defense, it could have a significant impact. And one of the issues that's been subject to a lot of discussion over recent months is the degree to which active-duty Army officers have spoken candidly to the administration on a variety of issues, particularly relating to Iraq. And I wonder if you think that the Department of Defense, as constituted, and given its relationship to civilian authority, could really take an aggressive lead on making clear the importance of these issues to the Congress and to the public, and is that likely, in your judgment?
SULLIVAN: Yes. And it happened this weekend. Admiral McConnell, who is the director --
SULLIVAN: DNI, he is the DNI, the director of national intelligence. He sent a letter to the House recommending that the debate move off dead center on the NIE because of, in his view, the implications of global climate change. And that's the senior intelligence officer in the United States of America. And I think that's pretty good indication that people are getting serious about this issue. And it passed in the House. Now there's a bipartisan bill in the Senate. But I think if that can -- if that moves forward, then I think you're getting pretty good indication that it's supported and people are beginning to pay attention to it in a serious way.
INSKEEP: Who else has a question this evening? Oh, there's got to be somebody else with a question.
LOPEZ: Well, let me just comment on this last one while somebody's thinking of another question.
LOPEZ: The -- it really requires -- it's not just the Department of Defense. I guess I've stressed that at least in my remarks. And I think you need -- when I go back to the three of us in the early '80s, we didn't want to serve on the Joint Staff, but there was something called Goldwater-Nicholas, and so now everybody is joint.
Well, jointness exists in the Department of Defense, but there's a lot of stovepipes, if you will, outside. And I think it requires the full cooperation of the interagency and the full support of the Congress. And that's hard. And I don't think you can get from here to there without it.
And then secondly, it's bigger than us -- not just the Department of Defense, bigger than us Americans, United States. It's -- this is a global problem.
But we are -- I think I said in the -- the world's superpower, or people still call us that, and we have to lead. And you can't lead unless you have the full cooperation across the government and the people and the interagency and the Congress.
INSKEEP: In your report, if I may -- go ahead, General.
SULLIVAN: I actually thought your question was going to go in a different direction when you started out: Where do the investments come from?
And one of the things that really caught my attention while we were doing this study was, in the trip to the United Kingdom we heard a number of different perspectives from the government, and then at the end we ended up with a series of meetings from industry. And two in particular really caught my attention on -- in the investment side of it. One is the reinsurance. They see this as a huge risk, and they think we should be making investments now to reduce that risk. And that was one point of where some of the investments ought to come from.
The second was the representatives of Virgin Airlines, who are doing pretty well in this world. They're making big donations. But the comment was -- if I could paraphrase it, I think, correctly -- to the extent of, well, these were not just donations for the good will of trying to do something just to improve the environment; we see some economic incentives in this as well. And they had a number of initiatives which were based on improving fuel economy of their aircraft and in some cases eliminating short-haul aircraft and moving to high-speed rail and completely changing the economic picture, because they saw that the change not only had a plus benefit for the environmental considerations but had a huge return on their investment in the long term in terms of the transportation requirements that they were trying to meet.
KERN: Will the United States continue to have coal-fired power plants or nuclear power? I believe there are almost 30 requests for nuclear power plants in the United States of America.
Right now the grid -- the power grid in Hawaii is maxed out. The armed forces, with every new house being built out there, were putting solar panels on the roofs and were actually selling power, excess power, back to the grid.
I think the Department of Defense has -- can we do an analysis? I want to go to the professor from Princeton here. NOAA, NASA, USGS, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Commerce Department -- I believe everybody is in this ship together, and we have to have a good analysis of what's really going on and what are the risks. And I believe business -- to Paul's point and Joe's point -- I believe American business has a huge, huge opportunity here.
INSKEEP: Because the political question was raised, let me ask about this. Your report calls for greater action to battle -- to be -- greater global leadership against climate change, to mitigate or battle against climate change, which can be taken as an implied criticism of the administration now in power.
You also are careful in the report to quote President Bush quite a number of times in support of your positions, which could suggest that he's on the same page as you. How would you evaluate the current administration and its thinking on this?
SULLIVAN: The last four pages of the National Security Strategy -- the last four pages actually talk to global climate change, actually talk to these issues.
The question is, will we participate -- and for me, for me -- and this is a nonpartisan study -- what will the United States of America do when it comes time to decide what we're going to do with Kyoto, follow-on to Kyoto? How will we respond to that? And in our view, we should respond in a positive way, participate with our international partners on this issue, which is a global issue. It's global climate change and the security implications of it.
What goes on in Central Europe, the instability in Central Europe related to, as Joe and Paul both pointed out, migration from south to north -- the instability there -- and by the way, there's lots of reasons why there's instability there. It's -- you can't relate it, and I want you all to know that we know that you can't relate it necessarily to global climate change. And we are not trying to connect every that can't be connected. But there is latent instability there. That will have an effect on us.
And there is an effect when people move out of the Sudan to the Central African Republic, to Chad, none of which meet the basic requirements for stable governments as we know them. They are not stable. And by the way, extremists love those petri dishes that are just laying out there in the sun. They love it, because these are ripe for trouble.
INSKEEP: Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead, ma'am.
INSKEEP: It's coming your way.
QUESTIONER: I'm Kongdan Oh from Institute for Defense Analyses. This is maybe my first question ever since I become a member of the Council on Foreign Relations -- (laughter) -- in 1995. (Laughter.)
GEN./ADM. : Holy cow!
Hey, we're going to do our best.
QUESTIONER: I'm actually a specialist on Northeast Asian Security Studies, and we have an alliance relationship with South Korea and Japan. And let's talk about some small talk. When Korea is dependent on imported oil and gas during the height of the summer heat, about 95 degree, 100 percent humidity, the entire Korean government and Japanese government alike turned down their electricity, and the temperature inside the government bureaus, including the presidential and prime minister's office is usually 78 degrees. In the winter, similar rules applied.
In the middle of the U.S. bases in Japan and Korea, I have the coldest winter in summer -- (laughter) -- and the hottest day in winter. So now that we are talking about the our model sampling and all these things, we start from a small broken window centrum. Actually, when I give a briefing inside the Pentagon, I have to wear sweaters in the middle of summer -- (soft laughter) -- because every temperature -- (inaudible) -- decided it's about 65 degrees. So I think we have a real new thinking out of the box. This is my sentiment.
GEN./ADM. : Thank you, ma'am.
INSKEEP: General Kern, you alluded to the Abrams tank. What does it get, two gallons to the mile?
KERN: On a good day.
INSKEEP: On a good day?
KERN: You know, I think the point is that we can do better and should. But it takes some -- it takes the strategic planning to do that. I think all of us in here have worn our sweaters in the Pentagon at briefings in the middle of the summer and wished we didn't have to. But to do that, you have to revise the whole heating and cooling plan of the Pentagon, which is finally -- is taking place. That only took 30 or 40 years.
SULLIVAN: But I think you're right. I think you're right. I don't know where I was last week, but I was -- I was actually in Atlanta. I was cold for two days, actually cold for two days -- too cold.
You know, this business about tanks -- let me just -- we didn't go into any of this, okay? We didn't go into any of this, but you need to know, there is an insatiable quest, and rightly so, to protect the troops. The reason the tank is as heavy as it is, is to protect the troops, to protect our most precious asset. And when you have to protect -- even at 70 tons and it gets flipped over by the IEDs -- I mean, anybody who wants to talk technology and has a way to fix protection levels with lower weights against the kind of weapons we're talking about, that is the place to go for the Department of Defense.
INSKEEP: Maybe this is a place to -- no, let's take one more question, since there's time.
Go right ahead, sir. Stand up. The microphone's coming your way.
QUESTIONER: Henri Barkey, Lehigh University and the Wilson Center. Talking about the military and the Abrams tank -- my understanding is that of the 10 most gas-guzzling vehicles that the military uses, only two are combat vehicles, the Apache and the Abrams tank. So we spend an enormous amount of gasoline and fuel just to carry fuel to the front. You mentioned earlier that things were being thought about in the Department of Defense about new ideas, new technologies. Can you explain a little bit further?
SULLIVAN: You want to handle that, Paul?
KERN: No, I -- we'll keep picking on the thank, which is one of General Sullivan's and mine's favorite -- (laughter) -- systems. And it is a wonderfully designed vehicle, but it was designed in the 1970s, and it was designed with protection, lethality and capability there. And it has a very large engine, because that engine was designed so that that 70-ton tank could move out of the way of an anti-tank missile. So all of those design pieces were thought through in a different era and a different time.
So if we had a clean sheet of paper to redesign things, and what we're suggesting with a new strategic look at things, now is the right time to do that and to consider all of these factors as part of that. We know how to design things better today. And if we can get to General Sullivan's core point of, how do we find protection levels for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are out there, so that we don't have to put 70 tons of armor out there, we're going to vote for that. And we're encouraging people today to even push harder in those areas than they have in the past. But it's going to take a fair amount of work to do that, and we've been studying that for the last 20 years.
The point that you -- if you listen to it carefully, on General Sullivan's introduction, he began that transformation process right at the end of our Desert Storm period. We have not finished it, but right now is the time to make that point, that we need to get on with it, and to figure out those better ways of providing both the support for our armed forces, as well as more efficient systems from an energy perspective and more effective systems from the total perspective of how we're going to attack the strategic environment.
SULLIVAN: Without going into all the details, I think both of these questions are related. Number one, how do we manage our energy assets? How do we control our own destiny in that regard? And how do we build our systems for the roads? I mean, God knows how much fuel we use moving trucks around the United States or generating power for air conditioning or anything else.
And I think what we're suggesting is that given all of that, there is a national need to take a look at ourselves and the rest of the world and how it all comes together into -- in America, in Washington or Sacramento or Boston or Trenton or whatever. And we have to get on with it. Because if we don't, I think what we're saying is, the trends are not good, and we're all going to be standing around here waiting for certainty.
And by the way, I think it's reasonably certain, at least in my mind, in about 40 to 50 years, some of the debates will be over. Because we are entering an era where we don't know. We're into the unknown here, folks, in my view. And I haven't become a zealot, but I think I've got something figured out. (Laughter.)
LOPEZ: So the word that Paul's used two or three times -- in simplistic terms, if we don't strategize and we don't plan, then we're in for a wakeup call and we'll be forced to change. We'll be in a reactive mode; we'll have to sacrifice. The world will have to sacrifice like it never has before, because we weren't ready.
INSKEEP: Let me take -- because we've got about 30 seconds left here, let's take on final question. This gentleman here seems very eager in the front row. If you'd just wait for the microphone, sir.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. I'm Russell Train of the World Wildlife Fund, chairman emeritus.
I spent about 40 years working in the environmental area. And I'm accustomed to having the mainstream frequently dismiss environmental concerns as fringe, irrelevant, elitist, et cetera. And I just want to say how refreshing it is to have you gentlemen who do not represent, I think, the fringe -- (laughter) -- speak up on this issue. I congratulate you, and I hope you make yourselves heard. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
INSKEEP: Thank you all. If you'd like to let him have the last word, that might be good, unless there's anything else you want to say.
SULLIVAN: He said it all. (Laughter.) Thank you very much, sir. That's wonderful.
INSKEEP: Thank you all for your questions. Appreciate it.
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