CASA: DoD “Climate Adaptation Plan” diverted attention of leadership in midst of deadly Afghanistan withdrawal

August 31, 2023

Washington, DC – The Center to Advance Security in America (CASA) has uncovered email communications between officials in the Biden Department of Defense regarding the fast tracking of the DoD “Climate Adaptation Plan” (CAP) signed by Secretary Lloyd Austin on September 1, 2021 – just six days after the poorly planned Afghanistan withdrawal resulted in 13 American service members killed in a Taliban terrorist attack. Per the uncovered emails, the goal of the CAP is to “transform the Department” and to “inculcate climate change considerations across all major decision-making processes”.

At the same time DoD officials were rushing through a plan to “transform the Department”, the Biden Administration was in the process of attempting to withdraw American armed forces from Afghanistan. Records indicate the DoD climate plan was directly competing for the time and attention of Senior DoD officials, including Secretary Lloyd Austin, at a moment of extreme chaos and national security concerns being inflamed in Afghanistan.

Beginning in May 2021, a high ranking DoD official, Richard G. Kidd IV, emailed Andrew Mayock in the Executive Office of the President expressing frustration with the amount of time it might take Secretary Austin to sign off on the CAP. Kidd states, “If it is not a real crisis with people dying – it takes at least 30 days to get anything signed by Sec Def.” At this same time, the Taliban was increasing attacks against Afghanistan government forces and preparing for “large-scale offensives.”

On August 17, 2021, the day after President Biden delivered a speech to the nation in which he acknowledged the catastrophe in Afghanistan, Secretary Austin’s senior advisors were again emailing about the timing of the CAP being signed. The apparent rush to get it approved, despite the Afghanistan chaos, is evident in communications showing that even the Secretary of the Navy was not given proper time to review the document prior to Austin signing it. The chaos and fatal decisions directing the pullout captivated the nation and lasted well into the Fall of 2021 as Afghan allies and Americans were being abandoned behind Taliban lines.  Given this timeline, the newly released records raise additional questions about the judgment of Austin and other senior DoD officials who decided to focus on the issue of climate change at such a tumultuous time.

“While the Biden Administration was in the middle of a disastrous and deadly Afghanistan withdrawal, our top military leaders were being hounded by DoD climate activists to fast track a plan to transform the Department by forcing politically charged climate change discussions into every decision the DoD makes,” said CASA Director James Fitzpatrick. “Whether this was just a grossly out of touch Department or motivated by Biden-appointed ideologues who believe that the so-called climate crisis is more pressing than the lives of American service members remains to be seen. However, based on these new records, it is simply appalling to think that American military and political leadership turned their attention to finalize a so-called ‘Climate Action Plan’ in the midst of a Taliban terrorist attack and while Americans and our allies were facing such clear and present danger. God bless the Gold Star families who have to live with this reality.”


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