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for example, a gallon of water to grow a single almond. Lack of effective water resource management is another contribut- ing factor; contamination, defores- tation, waste, poor infrastructure controls, and overpumping of groundwater diminish water supply. Changes in climate and weather patterns play a role, too, reducing snowpacks and triggering glacier melting, which adversely affect water accumulation in reservoirs; hurricanes contaminate freshwa- ter aquifers in coastal areas, where more than 40 percent of the world’s population lives.


National security risks Conflicts over water can be traced back to 2500 B.C., and water- sharing agreements, such as the Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan, are not uncommon. The major water shortages many already economically and politi- cally unstable countries will face potentially could result in regional water wars, exacerbating already volatile situations and possibly con- tributing to state failure. In Syria, lack of water for farmers, who then migrate to cities looking for work, often is cited as an underlying cause


of the unrest there. Neighbors who once worked jointly to address water shortages might, in the future, use water as leverage. More frightening is the potential for violence, as terrorists might seek to destroy or contaminate water facilities.


Countries important to U.S. national security interests “will turn to the United States for guid- ance because they do not have the financial resources or technical ability to solve their internal water problems,” states a 2012 Intelligence Community Assessment on Global Water Security. During his remarks at the U.S.


Coast Guard Academy’s commence- ment May 20, 2015, President Barack Obama addressed the military’s role in dealing with the effects of climate change. “[Climate change] is not just a problem for countries on the coasts or for certain regions of the world,” he said. “[It] will impact every coun- try on the planet. No nation is im- mune. … Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act — and we need to act now.”


President Barack Obama identifies water scarcity as a risk to national security during the 2015 U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement.


78 MILITARY OFFICER JANUARY 2016 Y 2015


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