<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Security can no longer be confined to national security threats or international relations alone. Off-late, the world over environmental changes has now also been listed as security threats. Diplomatic historian and foreign policy scholar Richard Ullman has defined threat as “…anything which can degrade the quality of life of the inhabitants of a state, or which narrows the choices available to people and organizations within the state.” As pollution has emerged as a major threat to national security —there is a demand either to include Environment Minister as part of high-profile Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and including home, defence, finance, and external affairs ministers as the members or there must be a sperate group as ‘Cabinet Committee on Environment’ to constantly monitor environmental and pollution parameters.It was in this context that India’s premier think-tank Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) in a report had asked the government to reorient itself to environmental challenges posing threats to country’s defence system. The report believed that changing environmental conditions may affect warfighting capability, the existing defence works, and elaborate communication infrastructure.Here are challenges as enumerated by the think-tankMOBILITY ACROSS SNOW-BOUND PASSES: Reminding that reduced snowfall had come to the aid of Indian troops during 1999 Kargil war, the report stated that flash floods out of glacier melt would complicate military planning. Further, more heat would result in wear and tear on equipment and demands of more water. The glacial melt in areas where the Indian military operates would affect the campaign season, logistics, surface mobility and weaponry platforms.NAVAL OPERATIONS: The scholars believe that rise in water levels would affect Indian Navy at all levels of warfare—strategic, operational and tactical—impinging on issues of maritime boundaries, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), post operations, shallow water operations, notably for submarines and naval tactics. An increase in sea level rise between 1.06 to 2.75 mm per year by the middle and end of 21st century are bound to alter the balance of the mix of Indian naval missions and strategic interests. India Navy may have to consider acquiring more shallow draught ships capable of landing in disaster areas and heavy lift helicopters for ship-to-shore transport. A number of brown water ships may have to be replaced with multi-role expeditionary capability warships.AIR FORCE: The climate change would affect the performance of the aerial platforms, as well as that of the munitions, delivered from these platforms, because weather plays a key role in weapon delivery, particularly in the case of standoff weapons and laser-guided munitions. Climate change is expected to make a difference towards the conduct of all these operations. The changes could have an impact both at the tactical as well as strategic levels. The aerosol concentration in the atmosphere affects the performance of precession-guided munitions (PGMs). Moisture content in the atmosphere, fog particles, dust particles etc adversely affects state-of-art munitions.Militaries have used the environment as a weapon of war over many years. The intentional discharge of oil into the Persian Gulf during the Gulf War is one of the examples. In a workshop organized by the Coast Guard to apprise about such threats, it was emphasized that 70% of cargo coming into Karnataka is petroleum products and any damage to this cargo can play a havoc.The workshop concluded that that environment security is a crucial element of national threat matrix with other elements being military security, economic security, resource security, and energy security.


Pollution: A threat to national security?