Alaska’s congressional delegation is applauding the U.S. Navy’s Arctic strategy document that was released this past week.
According to a delegation announcement, the Navy’s strategy document “builds upon” the U.S. Defense Department’s Arctic strategy published in June of 2019, and that of the U.S. Air Force, published this past July.
As described, the Navy strategy acknowledges that the interests of the United States are best served by “fostering a peaceful, prosperous, and rules-based order in the Arctic region.”
As such, the role of U.S. naval forces must be expanded in Alaska and the greater Arctic region by pursuing the three main objectives of “maintaining enhanced presence, strengthening cooperative relationships, and building a more capable Arctic naval force,” according to the delegation statement.
“Within these objectives, the department outlines the need to continually assess its Arctic requirements to ensure it has the right mix of forces positioned to adequately confront the malign activities of Russia and China, and to secure America’s homeland,” according to the statement. “The document also calls for improvements and investments in infrastructure, communications, force modernization and research.”
The Navy also stresses a need for partnership and close cooperation with Alaska Native communities, according to the delegation summary.
As a changing climate has opened more of the Arctic region for transportation, exploration and commerce, interest in the region by nations such as Russia, China and the United States is growing.
“The Arctic is changing,” Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said in the delegation announcement. “In the coming decades, we must ensure that its waters are navigable, and that our Armed Forces are equipped with the training and equipment necessary to keep the peace in a rapidly evolving climate.
“We must remember that the United States is not the only country working to pursue new opportunities in the Arctic — our adversaries are as well,” Young continued. “It is my great hope that this Arctic Blueprint will help us maintain our competitive edge with other nations operating in our region.”
As we have noted with other Arctic endeavors, Ketchikan stands ready to assist as it can. Our world-class Ketchikan Shipyard facility operated by Vigor Alaska, and year-round, ice-free moorage, are strategic assets that can well-serve the national interest in the Arctic.
We encourage policy makers and planners to keep Ketchikan in mind as the Arctic focus continues.