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Department of Defense: Arctic Strategy

Published November 1, 2013



Department of Defense: Arctic Strategy

Department of Defense released their Arctic Strategy in November 2013, following the National Arctic Strategy released by the White House in May 2013. The strategy analyzes the security environment in the region.

Executive Summary:

The Arctic1 is at a strategic inflection point as its ice cap is diminishing more rapidly than projected2 and human activity, driven by econo mic opportunity — ranging from oil, gas, and mineral exploration to fishing, shipping, and tourism — is increasing in response to the growing accessibility. Arctic and non - Arctic nations are establishing their strategies and positions on the future of the Arc tic in a variety of international forums. Taken together, these changes present a compelling opportunity for the Department of Defense (DoD) to work collaboratively with allies and partners to promote a balanced approach to improving human and environment al security in the region in accordance with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region.3

Security in the Arctic encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, ranging from resource extraction and trade to activities supporting safe commercial and sc ientific operations to national defense. Security cooperation activities and other military - to - military forms of engagement establish, shape, and maintain international relations and the partnerships necessary to meet security challenges and reduce the pot ential for friction. The Department will continue to build cooperative strategic partnerships that promote innovative, affordable security solutions , and burden - sharing in the Arctic , and seek to increase opportunities with A rctic partners to enhance regional expertise and cold - weather operational experience.

The Department will continue to train and operate routinely in the region4 as it monitors the changing environment, revisiting assessments and taking appropriate action as conditions change.

This strategy identifies the Department's desired end - state for the Arctic: 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. It also articulates two main supporting objectives: Ensure security, support safety, and promote defense cooperation , and prepare to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies — operating in conjunction with other nations when possible, and independently if neces sary — in order to maintain stability in the region. Finally, it identifies the ways and means the Department intends to use to achieve these objectives as it implements the National Strategy for the Arctic Region.


1 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 Rive rs; all contiguous seas, including the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi Seas, and the Ale utian islands chain.

2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists in J.E. Overland and M. Wang (2013), When will the summer Arctic be nearly sea ice free? , Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, doi:10.1002/grl.50316.

3 This strategy is nested under National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 66 / Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 25 , Arctic Region Policy, the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region , and the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. It complements DoD's Strategy for H omeland Defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (HD&DSCA) .

4 For additional information on the Navy's historic involvement in the Arctic, see The Impact of Climate Change on Naval Operations in the Arctic (Center for Naval Analysis, 2009)

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