October 23, 2012

Climate change a challenge to many military roles & to basing issues.

Indian troops of the Madras Regiment on the Siachen Glacier.

Armed forces in the Indian Ocean region usually confront each other under predictable geographic and weather conditions, such as the monsoon season. Longer term weather conditions, such as global warming, have not been expected and are unpredictable. Global warming will change the face of military competition in peacetime and alter war fighting particularly in mountainous Kashmir. Indian Ocean base building competition principally between India, China and the US will also involve more relevant environmental variables.

Global warming is frequently accelerating ice/glacial melt rates. This is making cold climate-glacial or ice-polar warfare even more dangerous for foot soldiers who are well advised to wear clothing that can counter icewater induced hypothermia and can keep them afloat if they freeze unconscious.
Military people driving vehicles are also more likely to slide-skid or, in worst cases, have thinning ice (over water) collapse under their vehicles. All this makes wide track Russian armoured vehicles (which are comparatively light) increasingly attractive buys.

Melting ice caps could put the capital of the Maldives, known as "Male" (pictured) under water - as well as newly constructed Indian bases on the Maldives.

US bases in the low lying islands of Micronesia and Diego Garcia may also be under increasing threat of inundation.

While militaries worldwide are comparatively well-funded organizations, who can afford sea-walls and other global warming countermeasures, maintaining some bases might become prohibitively expensive over the next few decades. A few decades is probably beyond the "couldn't careless" career time concerns of most senior military officers, DoD officials and politicians - but officers up to Major level may well feel the impact - hence need to take note..
Ice melting in much vaster quantities in the Arctic and Antarctic may raise Indian and Pacific Ocean levels by several metres, inundating some islands and low lying subcontinental areas, like the coastal flats of Bangladesh. This will increase overcrowding as island and lowland dwellers leave their homes and move to higher ground - with greater need for militaries to counter or control sectarian violence and refugee flows.

Militaries will increasingly be called on to aid their own civilians and other peoples as floods, Tsunamis and gradual sea-river levels rises become more frequently damaging.

From Breaking News 24/7, September 6, 2009 comes :
"Changing climate new adversary of India’s armed forces

NEW DELHI - A warmer world that threatens to change the battlefield and impact the capability of the military on land, sea and air is the new adversary of the Indian armed forces which are worried that the seriousness of the issue is yet to register at the government level.

“While global warming will have common effect of more pressure on the logistics and increased wear and tear of weapons, it will also have force-specific impact. The government needs to involve armed forces in studying its reasons and impact,” a senior armed forces official told IANS [Indo-Asian News Service], requesting anonymity.

The Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau which have large-scale military presence are among the areas most susceptible to climate change effects. The rapid melting of glaciers in the region would call for new deployment plans for the Indian Army manning the Siachen Glacier.

“Demilitarisation of the Siachen Glacier is out of question; so, its accelerated meltdown will call for coming out with a new deployment plan,” said a senior Indian Army official, wishing to remain unnamed as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The Indian and Pakistani forces have been standing eyeball to eyeball since 1984 at the Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield at 22,000 feet, where guns have been silent since a ceasefire in 2003.

Occupying the 76-km-long glacier, which has been melting faster due to global warming, is a huge logistic exercise and the changing climate will only increase the pressure on logistics.

According to a recent study “Security Implications of Climate Change for India” published by think tank Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), artillery gun platforms in the high altitude region that have become ice pillars would melt rapidly, making redeployment “a necessary but demanding task”.

“Unexpected melting (in the Himalayan region) would make troop movements extremely dangerous and the dumping zones and (makeshift) helipads may crumble with rapid snowmelt,” the report says.

“Besides triggering flash floods and a slew of disasters downstream, the melting would also result in severing of communication lines,” the army official added.

The Indian Navy is also concerned about the way changed climate patterns will shape the Indian Ocean region, creating issues of maritime boundaries, exclusive economic zone, port operations, shallow water operations for submarines and naval tactics.

“Climate change will alter the battlefields with rising water level submerging low-lying islands, the change in water temperature of a place affecting the sea flora and fauna and also affecting the deployment tactics for submarines,” said a senior official of the Indian Navy.

“The melting of snow in the Arctic Ocean may benefit China by giving them access to the Pacific Ocean and to warm ports,” he added.

The Indian and Chinese navies have been trying to outdo each other for greater influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which is of utmost strategic importance to them for security of energy supplies. Climate change will also change the dynamics of the IOR.

“Take the example of the Maldives, a low-lying small island ecosystem. It is vulnerable to climate change and may be submerged due to rising sea level. Given the friendly bilateral relations between India and the Maldives, in all likelihood India will have to absorb many of the displaced Maldivians,” the official added.

Military aviation will also be affected by the change in climate patterns as the performance of the aerial platforms and munitions varies with weather conditions.

Weather support is critical for all aerial operations, reconnaissance, para-dropping missions, transport operations, search and rescue and combating. Climate change is predicted to increase the severity and frequency of extreme weather events such as storms, which will have their effect on aviation.