“OPERATIONALIZING THE ARCTIC” –Modern War Institute

This map show the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) within the Arctic: Canada (purple), Greenland (orange), Iceland (green), Norway (turquoise), Russia (light blue), and USA (dark blue). Credit: DeRepentigny et al., 2020

Here is a critique of DOD Arctic Strategies from Modern War Institute. The authors find them long on platitudes and short on actionable courses of action. No mention of the Coast Guard or the Coast Guard’s Strategy.

As I have pointed out before, we never seem to see US Navy Pacific Fleet surface ships North of the Aleutians, much less in the Arctic.

“The current political and defense budgetary climates are such that the poles have been an afterthought in recent strategic discourse, only coming into clearer focus since 2019. The United States is an Arctic state but has continued its focus on near-term threats instead of long-term strategic challenges and realities. Today the United States is waking up to the realities of burgeoning strategic competition in the Arctic, but the result has been to hastily move toward Arctic strategies riddled with big words but little substance. The logistics of Arctic operations are extraordinarily complex. Everything slows in the cold; construction of infrastructure takes longer and is more expensive than a similar project elsewhere. The Arctic presents challenging climates, seasonally limiting conditions, and general unpredictability. And yet none of these Arctic truths seem to influence the prescriptions embedded within the US Arctic strategies. The Pentagon can—and must—do better if we are to achieve strategic success in a region of the world becoming increasingly more significant to the defense of our homeland. Defining the longer-term strategic interests of the United States within the region is a necessary step toward providing the unity of effort and the funding required of the services to meet future challenges.”

After pointing out that the Navy does not have icebreakers, there is a throw away line in the post that makes one wonder, “The United States does not need more icebreakers or more skibirds.” Otherwise they seem to be on point.

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