It was with a heavy heart that all of us here at the American Security Project watched news of the devastating tornado in Oklahoma. We are encouraged by news reports revising down the death tolls, and we hope that more lives are saved.
Yet again, we are reminded that weather is an issue of national security. Six months ago, the Marines deployed to Staten Island and the New York area in response to Hurricane Sandy. In every major disaster, America’s armed forces are called to assist in disaster relief. That is appropriate because of the expertise and organization that these units can bring. Today, the Oklahoma National Guard is providing critical assistance in relief and recovery efforts. We hope their presence saves lives.
We know that elements of the Oklahoma National Guard have, over the past three years, served in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and in the Sinai Peninsula. Today, they are playing a critical role in their own home-towns. This is important work.
As we watch this, we are reminded that the missions of national security and homeland security don’t stop with what we think of as traditional security threats, like terrorism or interstate war. In the 21st Century, the weather presents real threats to national security. Ultimately, the more time those American forces spend deploying for weather and disaster relief missions, the less time they will have to prepare for those traditional security threats.
We thank all of our servicemen and women for their support in this trying time.