Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Arctic Is Melting, So the U.S. Military Has Another Place to Defend

North Pole and Surrounding Nations. (Credit: AP) Click to enlarge.
For the first time, the Pentagon has a comprehensive strategy for the Arctic.  This move is prompted mainly because climate change is causing the sea ice to steadily melt and allow ships to access more of the Arctic Ocean.

On Friday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel helped to open the 5th Halifax International Security Forum by speaking about the Department of Defense’s Arctic Strategy.  The Strategy opens by saying the Arctic is at a “strategic inflection point” because “its ice cap is diminishing more rapidly than projected.”  This brings increasing “human activity, driven by economic opportunity” that ranges from shipping and fishing to fossil fuel extraction and tourism.  Most experts believe there will be no Arctic sea ice in the summer by 2030.

Secretary Hagel said in his speech that the U.S. “will remain prepared to detect, deter, prevent and defeat threats to our homeland and we will continue to exercise U.S. sovereignty in and around Alaska.”

The focus for the Pentagon in the region, according to this document, is to prepare the United States to “work collaboratively with allies and partners to promote a balanced approach to improving human and environmental security in the region.”  Arctic nations like the U.S. must focus on cooperative security at the top of the globe because there has already been conflict over how this new access to the region should be managed.  The more ice melts, the more governments and oil companies will be tempted by the oil underneath the ice.

The Arctic Is Melting, So the U.S. Military Has Another Place to Defend

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