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Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security

CNA Military Advisory Board
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In 2007, the CNA Military Advisory Board (MAB) released the landmark report “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,” which found that climate change constitutes a “threat multiplier” to existing security risks in some of the most volatile regions in the world. A 2008 National Intelligence Assessment confirmed the report finding that cli- mate change is a serious threat to national security and long-term global stability. The MAB, which is comprised of some of the nation’s most respected retired admirals and generals, also found that “Climate change, national security, and energy dependence are a related set of global challenges.”

A year later, the CNA MAB reconvened to study America’s energy posture and further examine the issue of energy security and how it relates to climate change and national security. Moving beyond recent studies on the dangers of imported oil, this 2009 report finds that fossil fuels, as well as the nation’s fragile electricity grid, pose signifi- cant security threats to the country as a whole and the military in particular.

This report identifies a series of current risks created by America’s energy policies and practices that constitute a serious and urgent threat to national security—militarily, diplomatically, and economically:

  • U.S. dependence on oil weakens internation- al leverage, undermines foreign policy objectives, and entangles America with unstable or hostile regimes.
  • Inefficient use and overreliance on oil burdens the military, undermines combat effectiveness, and exacts a huge price tag—in dollars and lives.
  • U.S. dependence on fossil fuels undermines economic stability, which is critical to national security.
  • A fragile domestic electricity grid makes our domestic military installations, and their critical infrastructure, unnecessarily vulnerable to incident, whether deliberate or accidental.

Looking forward, the report warns that continuing business as usual is perilous because of the converging national security risks of energy demand and climate change:

  • 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.
  • Destabilization 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.
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Details

  • Pages: 74
  • Document Number: MAB_2-FINAL
  • Publication Date: 5/6/2009
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