Climate, Weather, and Resilience in the NDAA Image c/o U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on Flickr. License:

Climate, Weather, and Resilience in the NDAA

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In recent weeks, the House and Senate have progressed on the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The House Armed Services Committee passed the House bill (H.R. 6395) by a vote of 56-0 on July 1, and the Senate began deliberations of its version (S.4049). Action will resume when the two chambers return from their Fourth of July recess on Monday, July 20.

Both versions contain provisions pertinent to climate and energy security. H.R.6395 takes a more holistic approach to understanding how climate change will impact the Department of Defense (DOD), while S.4049 focuses on the effects of more frequent extreme weather. Where the House and Senate bills most noticeably converge is in requirements for resiliency-building measures, especially regarding energy security on military installations.


H.R.6395 and a New Roadmap for Climate Security

Sec. 322 requires an update to the 2014 DOD Climate Adaptation Roadmap. 

Who is responsible for the report? The Secretary of Defense.

Timeline for the report? Update must be submitted to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees no later than February 1, 2022.

What are the report requirements?

  • Outline the DOD strategy and implementation plan for addressing the current and foreseeable effects of climate change on areas including: military readiness, geopolitical instability, and the Arctic operating environment.
  • Describe the DOD’s overarching approach to climate adaptation and mitigation measures.
  • Assess and project the scope and scale of climate change, drawing on data and analysis from federal scientific agencies and the Climate Security Advisory Council of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Sec. 1613 requires the creation of a new National Academies Climate Security Roundtable.

Who is responsible for creating the roundtable? The Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, shall enter into a joint agreement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Roundtable membership?

  • Members of the Climate Security Advisory Council.
  • Senior representatives and practitioners from federal science agencies, elements of the intelligence community, and the DOD.
  • Key stakeholders in the U.S. scientific enterprise, including institutions of higher education, federal research laboratories (including the national security laboratories), industry, and nonprofit research organizations.

Timeline for the roundtable? The roundtable shall give annual briefings to Congress on its activities, beginning no later than March 1, 2021. It will terminate on September 30, 2025.

What are the roundtable requirements?

  • Exchange expertise and foster collaboration among elements of the intelligence community, elements of the federal government that are not elements of the intelligence community, and non-federal researchers.
  • Identify relevant gaps in the exchange of data, knowledge, or expertise among participants of the roundtable with respect to climate security, and consider viable solutions to address such gaps.
  • Meet at least quarterly, in coordination with the meetings of the Climate Security Advisory Council.
  • Organize biannual workshops and produce regular classified and unclassified reports.
  • Submit a final report to Congress before termination on September 30, 2025.


S.4049 and Preparing for Extreme Weather

Sec. 354 requires a report to Congress on how extreme weather will affect the DOD.

Who is responsible for the report? The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with: the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Secretary of Energy, the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Timeline for the report? Not later than 180 days after enactment of legislation.

What are the report requirements?

  • Explain the underlying methodology the DOD uses to assess the effects of extreme weather, including through the use of a climate vulnerability and risk assessment tool.
  • Assess how extreme weather will affect domestic and foreign U.S. military installations re: infrastructure vulnerability, housing safety and food security, and access to electricity.
  • Provide list of ten military installation resilience projects conducted within each military department.
  • Provide overview of mitigation measures that may be necessary to ensure continued operational viability of U.S. military installations.

Sec. 354 defines “extreme weather” as recurrent flooding, drought, desertification, wildfires, and thawing permafrost.

Sec. 1045 requires the DOD to begin preparing for an expanded military presence in the Arctic, if the Secretary of Defense determines such an expansion to be in the interest of U.S. national security.

Who is responsible for planning and implementation? The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Components of the plan?

  • Arctic Training Program
  • Arctic Research and Development Program

What are the requirements?

  • Direct the Armed Forces to carry out training in the Arctic, or training relevant to Arctic military operations.
  • Develop materiel solutions for operating in extreme weather environments of the Arctic, including equipment for individual members of the Armed Forces, ground vehicles, and communications systems.
  • Develop a plan for fielding future weapons platforms able to operate in Arctic conditions.
  • Develop capabilities to monitor, assess, and predict environmental and weather conditions in the Arctic and their effect on military operations.


Of Joint Concern: On-Base Energy Resilience

H.R. 6395

  • Sec. 2824 amends existing DOD energy policy by requiring the Secretary of Defense to promote on-site energy security and resilience by: incorporating microgrids, reducing refueling needs, and carrying out four projects to expand on-site energy production.
  • Sec. 2828 requires the Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the military departments to improve the on-site metering of electrical energy by: installing smart meters to determine optimum cost-effective energy efficiency, hiring an energy usage audit firm to provide year-long electric energy load profile data, and determining maximum electrical loads of on-site defense structures.


  • Sec. 316 amends existing DOD energy policy by requiring the Secretary of Defense to ensure 99.9% availability levels (per fiscal year) for the energy loads of missions critical to each military installation. The Secretary must reach this figure by FY2030. Planning for this requirement will include: encouraging the use of multiple and diverse sources of energy, installing microgrids to promote on-base energy production, and favoring the use of full-time, installed energy sources over emergency generation.
  • Sec. 2842 amends existing DOD energy policy by requiring the Secretary of Defense to incorporate the long-term consideration of energy security and resilience into evaluations of military construction life-cycle costs. Security and resilience measures should: ensure each military facility is capable of continuing to perform its missions in the event of a natural or human-caused disaster, an attack, or any other unplanned event that would impair the facility’s operational capacity.

10 U.S. Code §101 definitions of “energy security” and “energy resilience”:

  • Energy security: having assured access to reliable supplies of energy and the ability to protect and deliver sufficient energy to meet mission essential requirements.
  • Energy resilience: the ability to avoid, prepare for, minimize, adapt to, and recover from anticipated and unanticipated energy disruptions in order to ensure energy availability and reliability sufficient to provide for mission assurance and readiness, including mission essential operations related to readiness, and to execute or rapidly reestablish mission essential requirements.

Climate and energy security have been key parts of the American Security Project (ASP) issue portfolio since the organization’s founding. ASP has written extensively on the impacts of climate change on U.S. military bases, with a website dedicated solely to issues of military base resilience. In recent years, ASP has also expanded its climate security portfolio to consider the broader manner in which climate change affects U.S. national security interests. Recent publications in this vein include: the importance of ecosystem stability in Latin America, analysis of America’s true flood risk, and China’s Arctic ambitions.

ASP strongly believes that climate security is national security. Visit our climate security and energy security webpages for more information.