Pivotal Agenda Points

On June 2, 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates answered questions at the Shangri-La Security Conference. This conference focused on assisting the development of Asian nations, such as India and the Pacific nations, and connecting them with the rest of Asia. A principal goal of the conference was to foster maritime security in the Asian Pacific. Participating nations came from the Asian Pacific nations as well as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In an answer to a question regarding the projected key issues in the United States-Asian Pacific (mainly Singapore), relationship for the year 2011, Secretary Gates responded that, in the future, the environment and, particularly, global warming will be pivotal agenda points.

Maritime security and the impacts on it from global climate change are a concern at the Department of Defense.On September 26, 2007, in an article from the American Forces Press Service regarding the increased use of sea transport for trade due to growing shoreline populations around the world, the Department of Defense acknowledged that a Northwest Passage, a maritime route via the northern North American coastline through the Arctic Ocean, had opened. This new passage opened due to climate change.

To advise the U.S. President about current and novel science and technology related to climate change, the Secretary of Defense as well as the Secretary of Commerce alternate in heading a committee known as the

Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration (CCCSTI).

The Department of Defense has had a long history—older in fact than the United States. At the time of the American Revolution in 1775, the group of colonies that would soon become the United States of America established an Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. By 1789, the government recognized the need for a centralized office for these military programs, and thus, established the War Department. The War Department would eventually become the Department of Defense nearly 200 years later.

1790 saw the generation of the Coast Guard, which now acts to maintain homeland security in times of peace. Eight years later, in 1798, a separate Department of the Navy was formed. It was not until the year 1947 that a civilian position was set up by Congress to act as Secretary of Defense, initially intended to serve in the Presidential Cabinet. The War Department became the Department of the Army, and the U.S. Air Force separated from the Army into its own division. The three branches of the new Department of Defense became the Army, Navy and Air Force. In the year 1949, the Department of the Army officially became the official DOD.

SEE ALSO: Canada; Department of Energy, U.S.; Department of State, U.S.; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Globalization; Greenhouse Effect; Greenhouse Gases; India; Montreal Protocol; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Singapore; United Kingdom.

bibliography. Center of Military History, American Military History (Kessinger Publishing, 2004); D. Kaniaru, The Montreal Protocol: Celebrating 20 Years of Environmental Progress - Ozone Layer and Climate Protection (Cameron May, 2007); J.J. Kruzel, "Navy to Unveil New Maritime Strategy', American Forces Press Service News Articles (Sept. 26, 2007); A. W. Miziolek and W. Tsang, eds., Halon Replacements: Technology and Science (American Chemical Society, 1998); Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy (Indiana University Press, 1977); M. Yahuda, The International Politics of the Asia Pacific: Since 1945 (Rout-ledge, 2005).


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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