US Navy Releases New Arctic Strategy

USS Connecticut in the Arctic Ocean, March 19, 2011From United States Navy:  The U.S. Navy released an updated Arctic Roadmap Feb. 24 to prepare naval forces over the next 15 years for operations in the Arctic Ocean. . . .

To plan for the changing Arctic environment, [Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan] Greenert directed the Navy’s Task Force Climate Change (TFCC) to produce an assessment of how ice coverage will change in the Arctic, and its impacts on the Navy.

The task force assembled an interagency team of Arctic experts from various Navy offices, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Ice Center, the U.S. Coast Guard, and academia to develop a consensus assessment based on available predictions by climate scientists. The task force identified key missions the Navy should be expected to perform, such as maritime security (including support to the Coast Guard for search and rescue), sea control, freedom of navigation, and disaster response/defense support of civil authorities. . . .

Recognizing the inherent risks and challenges of operating in such a harsh environment, the Arctic Road Map implementation plan emphasizes: increased investment in research and development to better understand long-term climate processes and improve near-term weather predictions; a national effort towards ocean bottom mapping in support of accurate nautical charts; development of requirements for standard aids to navigation in Arctic waters; evaluation of future shore infrastructure requirements; and evaluation of requirements for logistics support capabilities for Arctic operations.

The implementation plan does not alter any current funding or budget processes but reinforces ongoing activities and provides guidance for future year budget deliberations.

“Our challenge over the coming decades is to balance the demands of current requirements with investment in the development of future capabilities,” wrote Greenert. “This roadmap will ensure our investments are informed, focused, and deliberate as the Navy approaches a new maritime frontier.”

From text of new Navy Arctic Strategy:  The United States is an Arctic nation through the state of Alaska and its surrounding territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone waters located in and around the Arctic Circle. The United States Navy, as the maritime component of the Department of Defense, has global leadership responsibilities to provide ready forces for current operations and contingency response that include the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic Region remains a challenging operating environment, with a harsh climate, vast distances, and little infrastructure. These issues, coupled with limited operational experience, are just a few substantial challenges the Navy will have to overcome in the Arctic Region. While the Region is expected to remain a low threat security environment where nations resolve differences peacefully, the Navy will be prepared to prevent conflict and ensure national interests are protected.

Image: USS Connecticut in the Arctic Ocean, March 19, 2011 (photo: Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien/US Navy)