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Navy Sec'y: Don't Politicize Military Climate Policy

PHOTO: retired Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn, now Assistant Secretary of the Navy, said it would be a mistake for Congress to tie the hands of the military when assessing the threats and planning for global warming. CREDIT: U.S. House of Representatives.
PHOTO: retired Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn, now Assistant Secretary of the Navy, said it would be a mistake for Congress to tie the hands of the military when assessing the threats and planning for global warming. CREDIT: U.S. House of Representatives.
June 9, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va - Stopping the U.S. Armed Forces from planning for global warming would be a bad mistake, according to an Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives has added an amendment to the defense budget. It aims to stop current plans to deal with the security threats from climate change.

But retired Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn, now Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations & Environment, said the Navy sees serious national security issues in global warming. And he said Congressional politics should not get in the way of them doing their job.

"We have the security of our nation on our plates every day," McGinn said. "We cannot afford to be wrong. Any type of threat, whether it's chemical weapons, nuclear weapons and climate change."

According to McGinn, global warming is increasing the need for humanitarian missions after weather disasters, such as the recent typhoon that hit the Philippines. He also said rising seas threaten bases such as the huge installations in Hampton Roads, Va.

McGinn said disruptions in the climate will be dangerous for countries that already have brewing conflicts and weak governments. Storms or droughts will cause them to fail.

"Into that absence of power," McGinn said, "will run all manner of bad people, paramilitaries, or terrorists, organized crime."

McGinn was a Navy flier during Vietnam, before commanding the U.S. Third Fleet. He said the kinds of changes that have to be made to deal with global warming are never easy. But he said military planners work hard to be pragmatic, serious and nonpartisan when facing the future.

"We basically do our job in the most objective, clear-eyed way that we possibly can," McGinn said. "If you wait for 100 percent certainty on the battlefield, something bad is going to happen."

West Virginia Rep. David McKinley sponsored the amendment and did not return calls requesting comment. In a letter to other members of Congress, McKinley called the climate-change planning part of a politically motivated agenda.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV