Magazine article National Defense

Pentagon Cautious about Arctic Investments

Magazine article National Defense

Pentagon Cautious about Arctic Investments

Article excerpt

* As ice caps continue to melt, Pentagon officials have grown increasingly concerned about the potential for great power competition in the Arctic. But the Defense Department remains cautious when it comes to investing in capabilities.

"Climate change has really focused a lot of attention" there, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said at a recent conference.

"That gives rise to transit lanes that are open more often now," he said. "It gives rise to continental shelves and the resources on those shelves that are accessible ... that were not accessible before."

Recent Russian efforts to beef up its capabilities in the region have raised red flags among U.S. officials.

The United States needs to "make sure that we remain capable of operating up there, we remain aware of how things are changing and are ready to respond appropriately," Richardson said.

For fiscal year 2017, the Pentagon aims to spend about $6 billion on region-specific assets, according to a recent Defense Department report to Congress, "Resourcing the Arctic Strategy."

They include: Northern-based missile defense systems; the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex; the Arctic Submarine Laboratory in San Diego; and the National/Navy Ice Center in Suitland, Maryland.

The fiscal year 2017 Pentagon budget request includes: $296 million for projects to support the future use of the F-35A joint strike fighter at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; $47 million for construction of an unmanned aerial vehicle hangar at Fort Wainwright, Alaska; and $20 million for hangar modification and equipment at Keflavik, Iceland, to support P-8A reconnaissance aircraft deployments. …

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