Department of Defense Arctic Strategy: Building Resiliency on Thin Ice

  • September 17, 2016
  • Colonel John K. Baker

Congress has deemed the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Arctic Strategy inadequate to address the national security significance of the region. Diminishing Arctic ice has increased human access for trade routes and natural resources, including an estimated twenty-five percent of the world’s untapped oil and gas reserves. The geopolitical and environmental impacts, particularly with Russia’s aggressive economic and military posture, threaten the relative stability of the Arctic region and challenge U.S. interests. Budget cuts and a proposed drawdown of U.S. troops in Alaska may have created the perception of a U.S. retreat from the region at a time when the U.S. holds the chairmanship of the Arctic Council and has no better time to lead internationally. As it revises its Arctic Strategy in the next year to comply with Congressional mandate, DOD has the opportunity to develop and articulate a more comprehensive and collaborative approach. This paper proposes recommendations by which DOD can address threats in an uncertain future to help achieve U.S. Arctic policy objectives.