WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Navy will study the effect of climate change more frequently to better understand the impact that worsening weather and conditions are having on force effectiveness.

“Yes to more exercises,” Meredith Berger, the assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, said Sept. 7 at the annual Defense News Conference. “It was fruitful time that we spent together, and looking forward to learning more from it, for sure.”

The Navy this summer hosted a first-of-its-kind “tabletop” climate exercise, in which leaders gather to discuss emergency scenarios, at Marine Barracks Washington to test elements of its Climate Action 2030 plan.

The scenario focused on an amphibious exercise with a partner in the Indo-Pacific, which is ultimately hit by a typhoon, according to a Navy summary of the event.

A major takeaway from the exercise, Berger said, was recognizing “the way that the threat of climate change is impacting the mission” and how collaboration can mitigate risk. Other feedback included the importance of identifying single points of failure and incorporating climate predictions and considerations into planning.

“We saw the importance of partnership,” Berger said at the conference. “We saw the difference that it makes when we are working together, when we are paying attention to the different logistics concerns.”

Those involved in the tabletop venture hailed from the Department of Defense, Congress, think tanks, industry, nonprofits and other federal agencies.

The Navy published its Climate Action 2030 strategy in May, following President Joe Biden’s executive order dubbed “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” The strategy describes climate change as one of the “most destabilizing forces of our time,” aggravating other national security issues and endangering installations like Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina.

Sea-level rise and drought — consequences of climate change — are particularly hazardous to the Navy and Marine Corps.

“Our naval forces, the United States Navy and Marine Corps,” the climate strategy stated, “are in the crosshairs of the climate crisis: the threat increases instability and demands on our forces while simultaneously impacting our capacity to respond to those demands.”

Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

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