27 November 2015 , By Schuyler Null
In the midst of a minefield on day two of Desert Storm Task Force Ripper, Marine Corps Operations Officer Richard Zilmer stepped out of his armored personnel carrier, squinted up at the sky, and saw nothing but black from horizon to horizon. Iraqi forces, trying desperately to blunt the attack of coalition armies, had set fire to hundreds of Kuwaiti oil wells and oil-filled trenches.
“The sun was a little white ball about the size of a ping-pong ball that you could look up at directly,” Zilmer, now a retired lieutenant general, said at the Wilson Center on October 21. “This was surreal to about the third power…truly for me a moment that I’ll never forget.”
He wondered, does anyone know we’re here? Or know why we’re here? The puzzle pieces linking energy and national security started to shift into place.
Zilmer is one of more than two dozen retired generals and admirals who have served on the Military Advisory Board for CNA, a research organization based in Washington, DC. Since 2006, the Military Advisory Board has investigated the connections between national security and U.S. climate and energy policies in several high-impact reports, concluding that they represent a linked national security risk.
The Military Advisory Board drew on not only their own experience but also experts in the climate community, insurance industry, and energy sector. “We got to ask the hard questions of a wide variety of people,” said retired U.S. Air Force General Ronald Keys, “and we were convinced.”