Alaska military bases fall short on climate readiness, federal report says

Members of the Alaska Air National Guard board a C-130 plane at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage on Dec. 2, 2021. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Five U.S. military bases in Alaska — and one in Greenland — failed to prepare for climate change like they were supposed to. That’s according to federal inspectors from the Department of Defense’s oversight agency. A report released this month said that most base leaders were unaware even of the requirements expected of them to prepare for climate change. The report also said that’s because military leaders at the sub-Arctic bases didn’t have enough training, funding, or guidance from the Defense Department to fulfill them.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Clear Space Force Station, Eielson Air Force Base, Fort Wainwright and Fort Greely, and an Arctic base in Greenland were cited in the report.

These bases are especially vulnerable to climate impacts like flooding and wildfires. Images released with the report show flooding and damaged infrastructure at Alaska military installations, though the details are classified. Details on specific risks to Alaska bases are censored in the public version of the report.

Alaska’s sub-Arctic military bases are strategically important because of the risk of attack from countries like Russia and China and new shipping opportunities as Arctic sea ice melts.

Federal defense reports identify climate change as a potential threat.  The Department of Defense called the effects of climate change a national security issue. Extreme weather cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars in damages over the last five years.

Claire Stremple

Alaska News Reporter, KTOO

I believe every Alaskan has a right to timely information about their health and health systems, and their natural environment and its management. My goal is to report thoughtful stories that inform, inspire and quench the curiosity of listeners across the state.

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