U.S. Navy Prepares for Militarization of the Arctic

Monday, November 30, 2009
Applied Physics Lab Ice Station exercise near Prudhoe Bay (photo: U.S. Navy/Tiffini M. Jones)

While hoping for a future of cooperation with other nations, the U.S. Navy is simultaneously planning for potential combat situations that may arise once global warming has melted the Arctic Ocean’s summer ice within two decades. A 35-page memo from the Department of the Navy spells out a five-year plan expressing the need to develop new technology and strategies in the event things become contentious in the open waters of the Arctic Circle by 2030.

 
“This opening of the Arctic may lead to increased resource development, research, tourism, and could reshape the global transportation system,” read the memo authored by Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, vice-chief of Naval Operations. “These developments offer opportunities for growth, but also are potential sources of competition and conflict for access and natural resources.”
 
Naval officials want America’s sea-faring forces to be able to execute undersea warfare, expeditionary warfare, strike warfare, strategic sealift and regional security co-operation.
 
Rob Huebert, associate director at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, told the Ottawa Citizen: “If you read the document carefully you’ll see a dual language, one where they’re saying, ‘We’ve got to start working together’ ... and (then) they start saying, ‘We have to get new instrumentation for our combat officers.’”
 
Huebert added that the United States isn’t the only power gearing up its navy for a new ocean frontier. Russia is developing and testing its new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile, while Norway and Denmark have been bolstering their militaries with Arctic-capable ships and planes. Canada is developing a military training center in the Arctic and building a new port that will house icebreakers and a fleet of Arctic patrol ships.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
 
U.S. Navy Plots Arctic Push (by Ian MacLeod, Ottawa Citizen)
Memo: Navy Arctic Roadmap (Department of the Navy) (PDF)

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