The Arctic: America’s Oldest and Coldest New Frontier

  • Lieutenant Colonel Joseph C. Miller

The United States became an Arctic Nation in 1867 when it purchased the territory of Alaska and has demonstrated varying levels of interest, commitment, and concern for the region since that time. Rapidly changing climate conditions in the Arctic have resulted in melting ice and with it increased possibilities of commercial transit and an associated increase to security threats. These climatological realities, coupled with the increased attention the Arctic is garnering across the globe, has forced a relook at strategy. The United States has begun responding to the dynamic regional situation with an updated national policy and implementation plan, however, more should be done to lead change and in response to the actions of other Arctic nations. The current implementation of U.S. strategy falls short in forcing action in several key areas. The U.S. should ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, formally appoint the State Department’s U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic to the rank of Ambassador, begin procuring icebreakers for the U.S. Coast Guard, incentivize civilian investments and partnerships, and explore future collaborative efforts with Russia to preserve the vision for a peaceful opening to the Arctic.