JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- More than 130 senior military leaders, intelligence analysts, interagency operators, and Arctic maritime subject matter experts discussed the strategic challenges associated with maritime operations and changing conditions in the Arctic, at the 2018 Arctic Maritime Symposium, hosted by Alaskan Command, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, August 14-16, 2018.
“The overall objective of this symposium was to generate informed strategic messaging for joint and interagency maritime operations and policy in the Arctic,” said Air Force Col. Mark Schmidt, Alaskan Command director of operations. “[It also presented an] overview of existing and potential opportunities for maritime operations and exercises in the Arctic, and analyzed current and prospective U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard strategy as it pertains to security concerns associated with unregulated military and commercial investments by our adversaries.”
In 2014, the U.S. Navy published an Arctic roadmap, however, since then, three factors have changed.
Warmer than predicted temperatures in the Arctic have resulted in robust ice regression beyond 2014 predictions. New economic opportunities are developing at a greater rate than projected, and adversarial investment in military and commercial resources have exceeded analysts’ predictions and created a significant, multifaceted security concern.
“Changes in the Arctic environment give our adversaries the impression the Arctic offers a soft underbelly in our ability to defend the homeland,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command commander. “As the command charged to defend the homeland, U.S. Northern Command is focused on ensuring we remain ready to operate in and through the Arctic in all scenarios in all domains against any adversary.
“As military capabilities advance, we must ensure we sustain our military advantage against our competitors,” O’Shaughnessy said. “The defense of the homeland requires us to reinvigorate our efforts to ensure we remain we can operate in and around the Arctic.”
As part of the Arctic Maritime Symposium, the U.S.S. Momsen (DDG 92), an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer, visited the Port of Anchorage August 15 to 17.
“With our multi-mission capabilities were able to look in the 3D spectrum,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Elaine Brunelle, U.S.S. Momsen executive officer. “In the air, on the surface, and under the water, we bring a different capability that we can work in the joint environment with the [different military services] and really bring a well-rounded capability to fortify those strategic efforts.
As human activity increases in the Arctic, the Department of Defense will be called upon to support other federal agencies and work with our regional partners to safeguard the stability and security of the region.