Military Times is reporting on a panel discussion at the Naval War College, looking at the security implications of changes in the Arctic and a resurgent Russia.
It talks about the difficulties of operating in the environment including poor communications. The Navy and Marines have apparently begun to at least think about operating there. They know it is an area of potential conflict, even If it is overshadowed by more urgent concerns. The Marines have done some small exercises in the Arctic. Still aside from operating submarines in the Arctic, the Navy has not done much operating in the environment. On the Atlantic side, they have recently reestablished the Second Fleet and have conducted one exercise that took a carrier battle group above the Arctic Circle for the first time in almost three decades.
On the Pacific/Alaska side, the US has a tremendous geographic advantage in holding one side of the Bering Strait, but we have almost no military infrastructure that would allow us to exploit this. So far the closest the surface Navy has gotten to the Arctic in decades is exercising south of Kodiak. The way the military divides up the world is still causing problems.
Former Norwegian Rear Adm. Saunes cautioned,
“You need to start looking at the Arctic as it is, not what you want it to be, and tension between NATO and Russia is increasing in the Arctic.”
The Coast Guard is certainly paying more attention to the Arctic than the US Navy, but Admiral Saunes had some comments about the Coast Guard as well.
“How is the Coast Guard to defend without any armament?” he said, adding that in Norway, security vessels for the Arctic “are armed underwater, on the water and in the air, because we know the environment we are going into.”
Presence and soft security will not be enough, Saunes said.