Climate Change Response as an Emerging Battlespace in the South China Sea: Earning Trust and Credibility through HADR Exercises

Type: Report

Description: Climate change offers a unique opportunity for the United States to flex soft power in the South China Sea (SCS). Incorporating climate change resilience and response into its operations with partner nations is an important method for the U.S. to counter China’s grip, increase U.S. validity in the region, and strengthen regional organizations. INDOPACOM should actively plan for operations to respond to and combat climate change because it will counter China’s influence and grow U.S. influence in the region. Actions to engage in combating climate change are not just political offshoots secondary to primary objectives. Combating climate change supports the primary objective of countering China, and is a non-threatening means to develop partner capability. Nesting climate change within the framework of competing for influence in the region both provides opportunities for engagement with SCS claimants who are reticent for closer military cooperation and nests competition with China in a positive and affirmative vision of the free world.

Author: Catherine Reppert

Publisher: Naval War College

Date: May 2021

Pages: 28

Publication webpage:


  • Resilience 
  • Civil Military Cooperation
  • Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR)
  • National Security
  • International Security

Other Keywords: Soft Power