Source: Chicago Tribune
The mysterious operation was part of the U.S. military’s gradual growth in the Arctic as it grapples with the effects of melting polar ice and Russia’s and China’s increasing assertiveness in the region. The slowly evolving plan has included stationing more fighter jets in Alaska, expanding partnerships with Nordic militaries, increasing cold-weather training and designing a new class of icebreaker ship for the Coast Guard that could be armed.
The vision could take greater shape by the end of the year: Both the Navy and Coast Guard are working on new Arctic strategies in light of the quickly changing circumstances senior U.S. military officials see.
In October, the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and its associated ships sailed above the Arctic Circle, the first such unit to do so since the Cold War. The strike group, carrying thousands of sailors, practiced cold-weather operations in the Norwegian Sea, an area where Russian submarines operate.
“Certainly America has got to up its game in the Arctic. There’s no doubt about that,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said during a visit to Alaska in June. “The reality is that we’re going to have to deal with the developing Arctic, and it is developing.”
Both nations[China and Russia] have shown interest in Arctic resources as the ice melts, including fossil fuels, diamonds, and metals like nickel and platinum.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division fire 105mm howitzers during a 2014 night-fire training event at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. (Staff Sgt. Daniel Love/U.S. Army