Climate and Readiness

Understanding Climate Vulnerability of U.S. Joint Force Readiness

Soldiers from the Florida National Guard perform high water search and rescue with members of the Coast Guard, St. Johns Fire Rescue, and other first responders in Flagler Estates, Florida

Photo by Ching Oettel/U.S. National Guard

Event Details


Wednesday, May 24, 2023


3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern


RAND's Washington Office and Online


In March 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed DoD to "include climate considerations as an essential element of our national security and to assess the impacts of climate change on our security strategies, operations, and infrastructure." Yet climate change effects—including hazards such as heat, drought, flooding, and wildfires—are not part of today's force readiness dialogue. Nor has there been any systematic effort to describe or model the complete landscape of climate-driven hazards and their potential impacts on joint force readiness.

Please join RAND's National Security Research Division on Wednesday, May 24, 3:00–4:00 p.m. Eastern for the launch of Climate and Readiness: Understanding Climate Vulnerability of U.S. Joint Force Readiness, a new report by Katharina Best, Scott Stephenson, et al. In conversation with Richard Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment and Energy Resilience, and Kimberly Jackson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Readiness, Katharina and Scott will present findings from a climate readiness framework they recently developed to help DoD implement climate-informed decisionmaking within the existing readiness enterprise.

This research was conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Program (FRP) of the RAND National Security Research Division. In introductory remarks for this event, Molly McIntosh, Director, FRP, will announce a new name for the program—Personnel, Readiness, and Health (PRH)—and briefly describe how this new name aligns with the program's research priorities and portfolio.


Katharina Best

Katharina Ley Best

Associate Director, Personnel, Training, and Health program, RAND Arroyo Center; Senior Operations Researcher

Katharina Best is associate director of the Personnel, Training, and Health (PT&H) program within the RAND Arroyo Center, and a senior operations researcher at the RAND Corporation. Her research interests focus on applications of operations research and mathematical modeling, including work on risk management, military force management, manpower and workforce issues, acquisition, and financial modeling. Best's work at RAND covers acquisition decisionmaking, force planning, readiness, and personnel issues across the Army and Department of Defense, and focuses on development of decision support processes and tools. Prior to coming to RAND, she studied the dynamics of the college education market in the United States as well as the effect of loans and credit on decisions made by students, parents, lenders, and institutions of higher education. She also worked as a corporate risk consultant at Oliver Wyman Financial Services, where she sought to apply risk management practices from the finance industry in other types of corporate management environments. Best received her Ph.D. and M.S. in industrial engineering from the University of Michigan and her B.S. in systems engineering from the University of Virginia.

Kimberly Jackson

Kimberly Jackson

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Readiness

Kimberly Jackson was appointed as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Readiness in January 2021. In this capacity, Jackson serves as the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense for strategic and operational readiness of the Armed Services. Prior to re-joining DoD, Jackson was an international and defense researcher at the RAND Corporation, directing studies on the effects of military culture on inter-service competition and the development of senior military officers, DoD’s evolving roles and capabilities in supporting the National Defense Strategy, and the comparative advantages of defense organizational structures and command and control models in strategic competition. She also led research on topics including professional military education and talent management, general/flag officer management, special operations, security cooperation, and Reserve Component forces. Additionally, from 2019-2021, Jackson was a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Until 2020, Jackson was an officer in the United States Navy Reserve, where she held assignments within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Naval Special Warfare, and in the Chief of Naval Operations' Strategic Studies Group. Jackson holds an M.P.P. and an M.P.H. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

Richard Kidd

Richard Kidd

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment & Energy Resilience

Richard Kidd serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment and Energy Resilience. In this role heprovides policy direction and program oversight for the Department's environmental restoration, compliance and clean-up activities as well as policy direction to operational energy and installation energy resilience. This portfolio also includes providing strategic direction to the Department's climate change adaptation and organizational sustainability initiatives. Additionally, he oversees more than $250M in research funds aimed at advancing energy and environmental technologies. This is Kidd's sixth assignment in the Senior Executive Service having served in SES positions across four Federal agencies and the White House. Prior to joining the Federal Government, he served as an emergency relief worker with the United Nations and has international travel and work experience in over 70 countries. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and has a master's degree in public policy and business administration from the Yale School of Management.

Molly McIntosh

Molly McIntosh

Director, Forces and Resources Policy Program; Senior Economist

Molly McIntosh is director of the Personnel, Readiness and Health Program (PRH) within the RAND National Security Research Division, and a senior economist at the RAND Corporation. The PRH research portfolio is focused on strategic human capital management in the national security sector, and is framed around four broad themes: personnel management, readiness, support programs and services, and health services and systems. Since joining RAND, McIntosh's research has focused on characterizing the DoD cyber workforce, work requirements, and compensation; comparing compensation for DoD civilians and workers in the private sector; and costing billets for large DoD organizations. Prior to joining RAND, McIntosh was Research Program Director of the Navy Compensation and Personnel Policy Program at CNA, which runs the U.S. Department of the Navy's FFRDC. At CNA, McIntosh led studies on a variety of military personnel issues, including the effectiveness of special and incentive pays, policies to address manning shortfalls, and drivers of officer and enlisted retention and performance. McIntosh also served as CNA's Scientific Analyst to Director, Military Personnel Plans and Policy Division, U.S. Navy and as Field Representative to Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific. McIntosh has a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University and a B.A. in economics from University of California, Berkeley.

Scott Stephenson

Scott Stephenson

Physical Scientist

Scott Stephenson is an environmental and political geographer at the RAND Corporation with interests in climate security and policy. His research utilizes geospatial modeling and analysis to investigate linked human and natural systems. His recent projects have explored topics such as Air Force installation hazard resilience, links between climate change and force readiness, the geography of National Critical Functions, Army logistics in Europe, and Arctic transport and geopolitics. He serves as an Associate Editor of the journal Polar Geography and was an assistant professor of geography at the University of Connecticut from 2014-2019. Stephenson has a Ph.D. in geography from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. in human biology from Stanford University.


For questions about the event, please contact Sharlyn Harlequin at