DOD Arctic Strategy

Nov. 22 the DOD released its Arctic strategy. The news release is here. but I have quoted it in full below:

“Department of Defense Announces Arctic Strategy

“Today the Department of Defense released its Arctic Strategy during a speech by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada. The strategy document may be viewed at

“Secretary Hagel’s speech can be read here.”

The strategy itself is actually pretty short, only 16 glossy pages. The readers digest version breaks down to, the DOD will work with allies and partners both internationally and domestically to assure the Arctic remains,

“…a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges.”

The Coast Guard released its own, much more detailed strategy earlier, reported here.

Worth noting, DOD Strategy’s definition of the Arctic, like that of the National and Coast Guard strategies, extends well south of the Arctic Circle:

“The DoD strategy uses a broad definition of the Arctic, codified in 15 U.S.C. 4111, that includes all U.S. and foreign territory north of the Arctic Circle and all U.S. territory north and west of the boundary formed by the Porcupine, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers; all contiguous seas, including the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi Seas, and the Aleutian islands chain.”

This might be of particular interest to the Coast Guard:

“Department will work through the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to maintain air tracking capabilities in the Arctic. As the maritime domain becomes increasingly accessible, the Department will seek to improve its maritime detection and tracking in coordination with DHS and other departments and agencies as well as through public/private partnerships. The Department of the Navy, in its role as DoD Executive Agent for Maritime Domain Awareness, will lead DoD coordination on maritime detection and tracking. Where possible, DoD will also collaborate with international partners to employ, acquire, share, or develop the means required to improve sensing, data collection and fusion, analysis, and information-sharing to enhance domain awareness appropriately in the Arctic. Monitoring regional activity and analyzing emerging trends are key to informing future investments in Arctic capabilities and ensuring they keep pace with increasing human activity in the region over time.”

There is a footnote on page ten of the document (page 12 of the pdf) that might provide a justification for DOD funding of icebreakers for the Coast Guard:

“11As expressed by Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), Commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), and Commander, USNORTHCOM, in a May 2008 memorandum, the United States needs assured access to support U.S. national interests in the Arctic. Although this imperative could be met by regular U.S. Government ships in open water up to the marginal ice zone, only ice-capable ships provide assured sovereign presence throughout the region and throughout the year. Assured access in areas of pack ice could also be met by other means, including submarines and aircraft.”

8 thoughts on “DOD Arctic Strategy

  1. Interesting….EUCOM AOR actually has the most Artic Coverage as Russia is in the EUCOM AOR. Should they take the lead for DOD?

    What is the Canadian Artic Strategy? Does this amplify/supplement/complement?

    Or should this be a joint NATO issue?

    • The Canadian Arctic Strategy is based on 4 pillars:
      – Exercising our Arctic sovereignty;
      – promoting social and economic development;
      – protecting the North’s environmental heritage; and
      – improving and devolving northern governance

      Wrt NATO : I agree that NATO will have to play a role one way of another as in the future.
      But it depends how the focus shift (to South East Asia) of the US will happen.

      I am really interested on a comparison between US Arctic Strategy as one and Canada? Moreover can we see in the Arctic A NORTH AMERICAN strategy of is-it unrealistic?

      Actually I am wondering if we can talk over cooperation or rivalry by looking at the US and Canadian Arctic Strategies?

      • There is some tension between the US and Canadian in regard to the Arctic in that the US sees passage between Canadian Islands on the North West Passage as “international straits” while the Canadians see them as “internal waters.”

        The Russians have a slightly different and capitalistic view. They charge a fee for transit on the Arctic Sea Route on their side of the Pole.

        I think the Canadians have a point in so far as the right of a state to know what commercial and private vessels are in their exclusive economic zone and if they are carrying potentially dangerous cargoes. To me that is a part of managing the resources, and it is probably something the USCG would want to know about as well in regard to our EEZ.

        Extending that to government vessels is probably not in our interest.

  2. Pingback: A Retired Coastie's Perspective on the Revised Strategy

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