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Podcast: DOD’s Daniel Chiu: Climate, Energy Concerns Emblematic of Future Security Challenges

Factoring in the costs of fuel in operations, both in terms of the monetary and battlefield effect, is a relatively new development for the U.S. military. “Our view was, when we were at war, we would bear those costs,” says U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy Daniel Chiu in this week’s podcast. “However, as we have started to appreciate the nature of the kinds of military challenges we face, we’ve realized this is not a sustainable approach.”

Chiu conducts strategic planning and scenario-based modeling for the Department of Defense, a task which has increasingly involved contingencies related to energy security and climate change. The appointment of Sharon E. Burke as the Pentagon’s first Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy in 2010 underscores the high priority the U.S. military has put on energy security amid fears of natural resource scarcity and changing energy markets.

“It is absolutely important that we remain focused on [energy and climate change] as we think about how we in the Department, and we as part of the U.S. government, tackle these types of challenges in the world to meet our broad national interests,” says Chiu.

“The types of security challenges we are talking about here…are quite frankly emblematic of the types of security challenges we will be facing in the future. These are not traditional military-on-military or state-on-state types of security challenges that the U.S. Department of Defense is quite accustomed to or has a long history of thinking about.”

“In particular, I’m looking at the impacts on geopolitical relationships based on changes in energy markets, energy reliance, energy sources, and the types of energy we use,” Chiu says. “I’m also thinking about…what the impact [of climate change] would be on food and water scarcity, what the impact would be on mass migration, what the impact could be on stability in various parts of the world.”