On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, November 17, 18, and 19, representatives of the American Security Project visited Orlando and Tampa, Florida for a series of meetings, public events, and briefings on how climate change is affecting security, how institutions in the region are planning for it, and how that will impact the careers of military and civilians working on national security in the future.
Attending were Lieutenant General Don Kerrick, USA (ret.) and Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, USA (Ret.). Kerrick was a 30 year veteran of the Army. He served in the White House as the Deputy National Security Advisor to the President, and served as a principal negotiator on the United States Balkans Peace Delegation that negotiated an agreement ending the Bosnian War. Kennedy, a 30 year veteran, was the first woman to achieve the rank of three-star general in the United States Army. She served as the senior intelligence officer for U.S. Forces Command, Deputy Commanding General for the Army Intelligence Center and School and completed her Army career as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence. Both are members of ASP’s Consensus for American Security. Andrew Holland, ASP’s Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate, and Porter Brockway, ASP’s events manager, rounded out the delegation.
University of Central Florida
The first stop on the tour was at the University of Central Florida, where Generals Kennedy and Kerrick served as the joint keynote speakers for the 7th Annual International Breakfast to kick off “International Education Week” at UCF. Their 8:30 AM speech started when Holland laid out the facts about climate change in a presentation, and then Generals Kerrick and Kennedy discussed how climate change is going to change the operating environment for the military, and discussed some of the threats that poses. They drew upon their years in intelligence and planning to discuss how the military views all threats: they identify a risk, then take measures to reduce that risk – unlike the politically charged process in which climate and energy policy is made today. They spoke to about 500 people, mostly a mix of UCF faculty and students.
UCFs “Global Perspectives” office is a University partner of ASP; their director, Dr. John Bersia, facilitated the event. The entire event is available as a podcast, so take a listen.
After the event ended, ASP participants went to lunch with a select group of faculty and graduate students involved in the UCF Global Perspectives program. This allowed a deeper discussion of the issues around climate change and national security.
Global Perspectives Television Interview
After lunch, the two Generals proceeded to a televised interview with Dr. John Bersia, Director of the UCF Global Perspectives office, on his television show, “Global Perspectives.” The show airs on WUCF, the Public Television affiliate in Central Florida. Each had their own interview, and discussed their careers in the Army, and why they believe the military is planning for climate change. The interviews aired on WUCF on February 8 and February 15, 2015, and are available through WUCF’s website: Lt. Gen. Donald L. Kerrick and Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy. Their interviews are embedded below.
Orlando Area Committee on Foreign Relations
For dinner, the ASP delegation traveled to downtown Orlando for a high-level dinner at the Orlando Area Committee on Foreign Relations (OACFR). General Kerrick and Kennedy spoke to a dinner audience that included approximately 30 members of the OACFR. Uniquely, the audience also included a delegation of Parliamentarians from the Bavarian State Parliament who were doing a study tour of Florida in the lead-up to the TTIP negotiations. Because of the language barriers, this was a slightly different presentation than usual, but it was a fruitful discussion that looked at the transatlantic nature of climate change and national security.
University of Tampa
The next stop on the tour was at the University of Tampa, a private university in Tampa, a two hour drive from Orlando.
At this event, ASP spoke to a group of about 100 undergraduate students, most of whom were members of ROTC. The focus of this presentation was specifically on how these future military officers could expect climate change and other non-traditional security threats to impact their military careers. Generals Kerrick and Kennedy emphasized the importance of flexibility and duty for young officers.
Tampa Bay Area Committee on Foreign Relations
The dinner event was with the Tampa Bay Area Committee on Foreign Relations. As Tampa hosts the U.S. Military’s Central Command Headquarters, this Committee has strong participation from both the US and allied military members. After a brief introduction from the Committee’s President, the speakers presented to a group of about 75 participants at dinner. The audience included a broad spectrum of participants, ranging from retired international trade lawyers to people involved with Central Command.
Florida Southern College
The final event of the tour was to Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fl. General Kerrick is a Trustee at FSC, and he arranged a meeting with the President of the College. The audience included over 100 students, members of the public, and staff, all meeting in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed auditorium. It was an excellent discussion that touched on a range of issues in the link between climate change and security. . The entire event is available as a podcast, so take a listen.