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With Russia militarizing Arctic, US Implementing its National Strategy to develop winter warfare capability

The Arctic region encompasses the seas and land north of latitude 66.33° N. The Arctic Ocean is the smallest of the world’s oceans but is transforming due to its melting ice. Eight countries possess territories there: Canada, Denmark (through possession of Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US.

 

As the Global warming is melting the Arctic ice, and opening up new shipping trade routes and real estate, intense resource competition over an estimated $1 trillion untapped reserves of oil, natural gas and minerals has started. Human activities have grown in the Arctic by almost 400 percent in the last decade, the U.S. board estimated, in terms of shipping, mining, energy exploration, fishing and tourism. Considering its geostrategic importance many countries including Russia, China and US  are planning military presence to protect their interests.

 

Russia isn’t alone in its Arctic ambition. The United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland all lay claim to the area and to tap the Arctic’s vast resources of fossil fuels, diamonds and metals.

 

Russia is acting quickly to become dominating Geostrategic and Military power in the Arctic. Russia has been carrying out rapid Arctic militarization by building New airbases, icebreakers, ground forces, missiles and and carrying out military exercises there. Russia’s new military doctrine signed into effect on December 26, 2014, identified Arctic as one of three geopolitical arenas that Moscow has deemed vital to national security. Russia isn’t alone in its Arctic ambition. The United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland all lay claim to the area and its abundant natural resources.

 

China is the latest entry to have arctic ambitions. China is not an Arctic nation (its northernmost city, Mohe, shares roughly the same latitude of Philadelphia and Dublin), but it sees the region as important to its long-term economic and security interests. China’s Arctic narrative attempts to normalize Chinese presence in the region, enhance polar operating capabilities, and gain a regional governance role. In 2018, China linked its Arctic activities to its One Belt, One Road initiative underscoring its strategic ambition toward the region’s vast quantities of rare earth minerals, hydrocarbons, and fisheries.

 

China, is building its third polar icebreaker and staked a claim as a “near-Arctic” state, further injecting itself into policy debates. China has outlined its ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming. Releasing its first official Arctic policy white paper in Jan 2018, China said it would encourage enterprises to build infrastructure and conduct commercial trial voyages, paving the way for Arctic shipping routes that would form a “Polar Silk Road”.

 

The white paper said China also eyes development of oil, gas, mineral resources and other non-fossil energies, fishing and tourism in the region. It said it would do so “jointly with Arctic States, while respecting traditions and cultures of the Arctic residents including the indigenous peoples and conserving natural environment”.

 

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft warned that Russia was militarizing the Arctic and accused Moscow of “saber-rattling” by conducting unannounced military drills in the Arctic area involving thousands of troops. Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, expressed similar concerns about aggressive Russian activity in the Arctic, noting that Russian submarine activity was at its highest point in 20 years.  Russia is upgrading its military capabilities with new fighter jets and navy vessels, and its submarines are pushing farther into the North Atlantic.

 

Norwegian military officials say Russia is also carrying out cruise missile tests and live-fire military exercises. That is forcing its neighbor, Norway, and other NATO members to rethink their military strategy in the region. NATO  has reestablished an Arctic command, now out of Norfolk, Va., and the U.S. Navy recommissioned the 2nd Fleet to counter Russian activity in the North Atlantic.

 

Norway has went on a buying spree, acquiring submarines from Germany and dozens of F-35 fighter jets from the United States. Norway is also rebuilding and rearming some of its own bases. One of those is Porsangermoen, the world’s northernmost military camp, set among rolling hills and ponds in the county of Finnmark. In October, about 1,400 Norwegian troops carried out military exercises at the camp. There was snow on the ground, and a cold wind sliced through layers of clothing. Part of their training was how to fight under winter conditions. The U.S. has hundreds of service members, mainly Marines, stationed farther south in Norway.

 

US had large capability gaps

U.S. capabilities to monitor these activities are limited. U.S. lags behind in critical measures of Arctic military readiness, such as Coast Guard infrastructure and the size of the nation’s fleet of submarines and icebreakers, according to a DARPA presentation in 2012. President Barack Obama had previously announced a proposal to accelerate the acquisition of a replacement heavy-duty icebreaker by 2020 after a visit to Alaska in September 2015. The icebreaker is meant “to ensure the United States can operate year-round in the Arctic Ocean,” the White House said.

 

The US has limited military resources to compete with Russia in the Arctic which is a key zone of Russian geopolitical and military interests. This was stated by experts commenting on US Navy Commander in Europe and Africa, Admiral James Foggo, who stated that the US will not allow Russia and China to dominate the Arctic and control the Northern Sea Route.

 

In September 2019, the U.S. flew a B-2 stealth bomber over the Arctic. James Townsend, who spent two decades working on NATO policy at the U.S. Department of Defense, says the mission helped send a signal to the Russians. “The B-2 was showing that we can fly up there and showing the Russians that we will fly up there,” he says. “It was a training thing on the one hand, but it’s also a deterrent message to the Russians too.”

 

US has intensified its intelligence activities in Arctic, through U.S. spy satellites orbiting overhead and Navy sensors deep in the frigid waters. Most of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies have assigned analysts to work full time on the Arctic. The U.S. intelligence focus is chiefly aimed at Russia’s military buildup in the far north under President Vladimir Putin.

 

Elsewhere in the Arctic, the Pentagon has begun to expand its presence through training exercises with partner nations. In Europe, the Marine Corps is deepening relationships with Norway, Finland and Sweden, training units of rank-and-file troops. In June, Norway’s government asked the United States to increase the number of Marines there from about 330 to 700, with plans to base them on a rotational basis in the Norwegian Arctic, a move that brough warning of   “consequences”. While U.S. and Norwegian officials have sought to stress that the arrangement is meant to deepen their security partnership and build expertise on existing Arctic training ranges, rather than deter Russian aggression.

How would future war would be in Arctic

Kyle Mizokami writes in The Week, “It would be two wars: one against the human enemy, which would often be hundreds of miles away and seldom seen, and another, constant war against the elements. Both would be trying to kill you. War would mostly be conducted by aircraft and submarine, the better to avoid actually operating on the ice.”

 

Col. John J. Carroll Jr., the deputy commander of Marine Corps Forces Europe, said commanders want to make sure service members are familiar with the biting cold and can move through the countryside on skis or snowshoes. “Everything is hard. Everything is more difficult,” Carroll said. “When the wind is blowing at freakin’ 30 miles per hour, it’s dark 24-7, and it’s minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit, and you’ve got to put your gear in your pack, get out of your rack, get out of your sleeping bag, get outside the tent and go do something — everything is hard.”

“The weather and the flat, featureless terrain would mean long-range subs and planes that pack plenty of firepower would play decisive roles. Unmanned, autonomous drones that can survive the harsh weather would be particularly useful. Large numbers of ground forces would be difficult to manage, so small Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine units trained to parachute, ski, or infiltrate by submarine would be used to attack and defend isolated Arctic bases. Search and rescue, to recover pilots shot down in such a bleak, hostile environment, would be a must,” he further says

 

As the military prepares for future fights in cold climates, officials spent the week in the north country discussing the strategy and equipment they’ll need to be effective. “You can’t stop fighting because there’s snow on the ground,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, deputy commander of the 10th Mountain Division. The Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division Winter Symposium involved leadership from all branches of the U.S. military at locations across the country, along with military representatives from Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, Croatia and Slovenia.

 

 

US plans National Strategy for Arctic

Earlier, on May 10, 2013, President Obama issued the National Strategy for the Arctic Region (National Strategy) to articulate strategic priorities to enable the United States to ”respond effectively to challenges and emerging opportunities arising from significant increases in Arctic activity due to the diminishment of sea ice and the emergence of a new Arctic environment.” The Pentagon’s April 2019 Arctic Strategy commits the Department of Defense to work with allies and partners to counter unwarranted Russian and Chinese territorial claims and maintain free and open access to the region.

 

Arctic Capabilities Assessment Working Group (ACAWG) had identified four capabilities Areas Communications, Maritime domain awareness, Infrastructure and Presence. US Navy recently released 2014 update Navy Arctic Roadmap according to which it plans to transition its Arctic Ocean operations from a capability to provide a periodic presence to a capability to operate deliberately for sustained periods in the middle and long term.

 

US 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.

Advancing Implementation of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region

With the Arctic region changing so quickly, the United States must review, update, and adjust its strategic initiatives to advance U.S. interests. Towards this end, today the AESC is releasing the 2016 Implementation Framework for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region.

The Framework shall ensure that U.S. efforts successfully address all three lines of effort from the Strategy:

  1. Advancing United States Security Interests,
  2. Pursuing Responsible Arctic Region Stewardship, and
  3. Strengthening International Cooperation

This forward-looking, strategic planning document updates the 2015 Implementation Plan and incorporates new initiatives, emphasizes community sustainability and resilience, and increases the importance of science and research by incorporating by reference the entire Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee’s Arctic Research Plan.

 

“Protecting the American people, our sovereign territory and rights, and the natural resources and other interests of the United States remains the highest priority of the Federal Government.” The first line of effort focuses on activities intended to support these priorities: preparing for increased activity in the maritime domain; sustaining and supporting evolving aviation requirements; developing communication infrastructure; enhancing domain awareness; sustaining Federal capability to conduct maritime operations in ice–impacted waters; promoting freedom of navigation and overflight and other uses of the sea in accordance with international law; and developing renewable and non–renewable energy resources.

 

Air and Space Forces

Given the Arctic’s vast distances and challenges to surface operations, air and space capabilities have long been essential to gain rapid
access and provide all-domain awareness, early warning, satellite command and control, and effective deterrence. Offering a solid foundation on which to build and project power across the region, the Department of the Air Force is the most active and invested U.S. military department in the Arctic

 

The Department approaches the Arctic with four main lines of effort: Vigilance, Power Projection, Cooperation, and Preparation. The strategy outlines how the Air and Space Forces will organize, train, and equip to provide Combatant Commanders with combat-credible assets capable of conducting operations throughout the Arctic into the future.

 

First, through investments in missile warning and defense, as well as command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance (C3ISR), the Air and Space Forces will defend the homeland by maintaining vigilance. Second, the Air and Space Forces will utilize unique positioning afforded by bases in locations like Alaska and Greenland to project combat-credible, all-domain air and space power. Infrastructure, focused on thermal efficiency and durability, will be combined with fifth generation aircraft and lethal capabilities to ensure the Air and Space Forces remain agile and capable in the future.

 

The Alaska Radar System and the 50-plus radars that comprise the North Warning System across Canada provide vital early warning for homeland defense and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Locations like Clear, Alaska and Thule, Greenland uniquely enable missile warning and defense in addition to space domain awareness, helping USSPACECOM track tens of thousands of objects daily.

 

Recent upgrades include new sensors on several Aleutian islands for a radar network known as the North Warning System. It was first installed during the Cold War to watch for incoming aircraft and ballistic missiles, but the Pentagon concluded more recently that existing radar did not offer “adequate detection and identification of aircraft operating outside the continental United States,” according to an Air Force assessment.

 

From aerial refueling tankers to the Air National Guard’s ski-equipped aircraft, the Air Force brings mobility capabilities that provide access to some of the harshest and most remote locations in the Arctic.

 

Third, strong alliances and partnerships in the Arctic are a strategic advantage for the United States. The strategy outlines ways to enhance cooperation as well as interoperability, operations, and exercises between the United States and its Arctic partners. To uphold the international rules-based order in the Arctic, the Air and Space Forces must leverage the strong defense relationships among Arctic nations
and work closely with regional and joint partners.

 

Finally, the strategy outlines essential training and preparation for operations within this unique environment. To meet this challenge, the
Department will renew focus on training, research, and development for Arctic operations, while leveraging the Arctic expertise of the Total Force

 

The Air Force is planning to base two squadrons of advanced F-35A fighters in Alaska by 2022, supplementing a fleet of jets that already includes two squadrons of F-22 Raptors, considered the Pentagon’s best in air-to-air combat. The  AirForce plans to use Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, a sprawling installation that includes 65,000 square miles of space for pilots to train.

 

“Air power, in particular, plays such a crucial role in this region,” Ferguson said. “The ice is melting, absolutely, but the reality is that it’s incredibly difficult to operate from a surface perspective, either on ocean or on land. That is certainly the case in the near future, and I would argue probably much farther afield as well.”

 

Army announces the release of Arctic Strategy in March 2021

For the Army, the Arctic poses two challenges – as a place and an environment. It serves as a place where the Army, as part of the joint force, confronts our adversaries around the globe in competition. This requires us to adapt our posture to employ calibrated forces able to conduct multi-domain operations. As an environment, it poses additional challenge from extreme temperature and terrain.

 

The Army will regain cold-weather and high-altitude dominance by adapting how the Army generates, postures, trains, and equips our forces to execute extended, multi-domain operations in extreme conditions. Restoring dominance also mandates an inherently multi-component approach with significant contributions for the Army Reserve and National Guard. The Army will implement integrated solutions that
emphasis readiness for operations in extreme cold and mountainous environments and bolsters the resiliency of our people and our
installations.

The Arctic and sub-arctic incorporates portions of three combatant command areas of responsibility and network integration is difficult in extreme cold environments, high latitudes, and areas with little commercial infrastructure. Similarly, the exceptional logistical challenges posed by a remote, poorly developed, and extreme environment make calibrated force posture essential.

 

This strategy lays out how the Army will generate, train, organize and equip our forces to partner with Arctic allies and secure our national interests and maintain regional stability.

To regain the Army’s Arctic dominance, the strategy communicates objectives and plans such as:

  • The Army will establish a Multi-Domain enabled operational two-star headquarters with specially trained and equipped combat brigades to increase our cold-weather dominance. The Army will station a Multi-Domain Task Force in Alaska to experiment in delivery of tactical to strategic effects in the region. This experimentation in Alaska will pose an anti-access/aerial denial challenge for rival powers, constraining their operational choices and provides the U.S. with strategic advantage in crisis and conflict.
  • The Army will improve the materiel readiness of Arctic-capable units to conduct extended operations in the Arctic region. Increase developmental testing for snow, extreme cold weather, and sub-arctic environment to provide information on system performance. Develop concepts that drive requirements and capability development to increase the firepower, speed, and survivability of land forces
    to maneuver in the region. The concepts the Army develops and supports with the joint force could integrate Arctic environmental challenges to allow the development of capabilities that are able to operate in the region, both physically and electronically, without significant alteration or development of alternative tactics, techniques, and procedures.
  • The Army will improve individual and collective training of our forces to operate in the region as well as other mountainous and high-altitude environments.
  • The Army will improve the quality of life for our Soldiers, civilians and families who live and work in installations and facilities in the Arctic region. Improve medical and unit support to mitigate health (physical and mental) challenges of Arctic duty for Soldiers, Civilians, and Families.

 

The Army will examine new power generation systems to leverage alternative technologies. Power generation in the Arctic is a significant challenge due to vast distances, extreme temperatures, and inadequate sustainment infrastructure. The Army, in working with the
other Services and Department, will examine ways to make improvements through use of alternative technologies that can improve
operational effectiveness while reducing sustainment demands.

 

Advocate for enhanced space-based communications and data coverage, and build terrestrial-based retransmission sites in the
Arctic. Satellite communications can assist in dispersed operations in areas with limited improved infrastructure. The Army will work
with Combatant Commands and with allies and partners to identify and advocate for ways to improve satellite communications in the
Arctic to mitigate the impact of solar weather patterns on UHF communications in the Polar Regions.

 

U.S. Army is looking to buy a purpose-built cold-weather vehicle. The requirement comes as the U.S. military as a whole is looking to increase its capability to operate in and around the immensely strategic Arctic region in response to similar developments by potential opponents, such as Russia.

 

The Army and Marine Corps increasingly have trained ground forces in Alaska. In March, a joint force of about 1,500 U.S. troops trained together in an exercise known as Arctic Edge, with some driving armored vehicles across frosty terrain and others moving on foot through frigid, snowy conditions.

 

Army Maj. Chad Peltier, the commandant of the school at the Northern Warfare Training Center in Black Rapids, said instructors stress to students the things that change when working in extreme subzero temperatures. “If you bring your weapon from the temperature into a warmer environment — say, inside of a tent — and then you bring it back out into that negative-40, negative-60 temperature, the condensation that has built up is enough to freeze that weapon up,” he said. “That’s a simple thing that can disable a warfighter.”

 

That prompted the operation involving the helicopters in Unalaska. A military spokeswoman, Leah Garton, said the mission allowed the aircrews to practice navigating over water and landing in mountainous areas, where the sensors were installed. The new equipment will “assist in flight safety for all civilian and military aircraft in the local area,” she said.

 

Coast guard

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has awarded five firm-fixed-price contracts with a total value of nearly $20m, in order to conduct early industry design studies and analysis for the purchase of the country’s next heavy polar icebreaker. The contract awardees are Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, Louisiana; General Dynamics / National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego; Fincantieri Marine Group in Washington; Huntington Ingalls and VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Mississippi, US.

 

US Coast Guard Acquisition Programmes director and programme executive officer rear admiral Michael Haycock said: “These contracts will provide invaluable data and insight as we seek to meet schedule and affordability objectives. “Our nation has an urgent need for heavy polar icebreaking capability. We formed an integrated programme office with the navy to take advantage of their shipbuilding experience.”

 

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.

 

Multi-Service Demonstration for Arctic Challenges project

Officials of the Rapid Reaction Technology Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Falls Church, Va., issued a request for information (RRTO-2015-09-09-RFI-SPIRAL-16-2) for the Multi-Service Demonstration for Arctic Challenges project. This initiative, seeks to find technology-demonstration candidates from private industry, government research and development (R&D) organizations, and academia to demonstrate military technologies for Arctic operations.

RFI calls for Technology demonstration related to but not limited to the following capabilities as they apply to operations in the Arctic Region:

  • Persistent Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capable of supporting domain awareness and information sharing in the Arctic region.
  • Low signature (acoustic, thermal, visual) small unit mobility platforms capable of prolonged operations in Arctic conditions (at minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit) with a minimum of maintenance and logistics support.
  • Technologies that would enhance the capability to conduct non-compliant Visit, Boarding, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) operations in Arctic waters.
  • Expeditionary mobile power and energy supplies capable of prolonged operations in Arctic conditions (at minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit) with a minimum of maintenance and logistics support.
  • Capabilities that provide or enhance surface and airborne navigation in the Arctic region.
  • Surface and airborne navigation in the Arctic region; and
  • Sensors that provide surface penetration and Arctic mapping

 

DARPA’s Future Arctic Sensing Technologies program

U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has put out a call to industry experts, under its Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) on “Future Arctic Sensing Technologies”. In particular, DARPA is interested in concepts for low-cost, rapidly deployable, environmentally friendly, unmanned sensor systems capable of unrefueled operation in the Arctic environment for at least 30 days.

 

Systems should sense and report data on air, surface and undersea targets to permit detection, tracking and identification of these targets in accomplishing or contributing to a significant military mission and provide for data exfiltration to a remote facility. DARPA’s Assured Arctic Awareness program seeks innovative approaches to creating under-ice and surface situation awareness above the Arctic Circle by leveraging unique physical attributes of the Arctic (e.g., under-ice acoustic propagation, noise, and non-acoustic properties).

 

“Primary interest lies in anti-submarine warfare (ASW), “But so is observing the increase in shipping brought on by the melting ice, which means tracking both ships and potential hazards like drifting ice, along with other remotely occurring activity that may hazard the stability of the region”, according to Darpa program manager Andrew Coon.

 

The extreme environmental conditions of the Arctic challenge the ability of conventional technology to provide such monitoring, limiting their affordability and performance (e.g., coverage area or ability to hold track or trail). Extensive darkness and cloud cover limit electro-optical imaging and solar power; instability in the ionosphere disrupts radiofrequency propagation; Cloud cover inhibits EO/IR; geosynchronous satellites access can fail at latitudes above 70 degrees North limiting stare options and traditional communications; and temperatures can fall below -65 deg C (-85 degrees Fahrenheit) affecting hardware designs

 

Remote distributed sensing is a way to provide stand-off situation awareness in the Arctic, and is an emphasis for the program. Distributed and unmanned systems offer the advantage of extensive footprints as well as proximity, without the potential system costs of large manned platforms and basing. As with the development of any remote distributed system, developers will need to overcome the technical challenges of persistence, survivability, energy management, sensing, mobility, delivery, and communications.

 

The Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region (NTIA) calls to ”assess the telecommunication infrastructure in the Arctic and use new technology to support improved communications in the region, including in areas of sparse population to facilitate emergency response”. It specifies a number of existing and potential services for NTIA to assess, including: Local and long-distance terrestrial, commercial mobile cellular, public safety services, emergency services, navigational safety, satellite voice, and broadband services.

US Navy’s thrust on science and technology (S&T) research

Scientists sponsored by the Office of Naval Research have traveled to the region to study the changing environment and provide new tools to help the U.S. Navy operate in a once-inaccessible area. ONR sponsored its scientific research through two initiatives within its Arctic and Global Prediction Program-Marginal Ice Zone and Waves and Sea State. Additional research involved the program’s Canada Basin Acoustic Propagation Experiment (CANAPE) initiative

 

CANAPE researchers used sophisticated oceanographic and acoustic sensors to gauge temperature, salinity, ice, and ambient noise conditions under the surface of the ice and water — factors that can dramatically impact the effectiveness of sonar operations and antisubmarine warfare.

 

“Abundant sea ice reduces waves and swells, and keeps the Arctic Ocean very quiet,” said Dr. Robert Headrick, an ONR program officer overseeing the CANAPE research. “With increased sea ice melt, however, comes more waves and wind, which create more noise and makes it harder to track undersea vessels. The goal of CANAPE is to gain a better and more comprehensive understanding of these changing oceanographic conditions.”

 

“Having accurate forecasting models will help the Navy determine what types of surface vessels it will need to build in the near future and 30 years from now, to withstand the climate conditions,” said Dr. Scott Harper, an ONR program officer overseeing the Marginal Ice Zone and Waves and Sea State research. “That way, the Navy can operate as safely and effectively in the Arctic as it does throughout the rest of the world.” “The Office of Naval Research [ONR] has extensive research on computer modeling and prediction of sea waves, ice movement, seasonal ice cycles and air-ocean interaction.” Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Mat Winter said.

 

“For naval assets to operate safely in an increasingly accessible Arctic, they will need a better understanding of the changing environment and more accurate weather and sea ice predictions than are currently available. New technologies to help ships operate more safely and effectively in frigid, ice-choked waters are also required,” remarked Winter during the Sixth Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Maritime and Naval Operations.

 

He highlighted a few current initiatives: an integrated program of observations and computer simulations to study the marginal ice zone (MIZ), the transition area between sea ice and the open ocean; an initiative to provide better physics for computer modeling of waves in the MIZ; experiments to understand the effects of changing Arctic conditions on low-frequency sound in the water and sonar operations; and research into vertical heat distribution and movement in the Arctic Ocean.

 

Winter also addressed ONR’s research in issues like ship stability risk from ice accretion; improved hull design for ice operations; ice-phobic coatings to prevent ice from adhering to exposed material; and propellers and propulsors that are less vulnerable to ice damage. Scott Harper, lead for the Navy’s Arctic and Global Prediction initiatives, noted that there are three main focus areas. First is to develop an improved understanding of the changing Arctic environment, which will enable more accurate representation in environmental computer models and improved forecasting capabilities.

 

Harper explained that the loss of summer sea ice cover was allowing more interaction between the atmosphere, waves and ocean surface, creating much more dynamic conditions. “Understanding how these things work together is the first step towards making reliable predictive models for better forecasting,” he said.

 

The second focus is the development of technologies for sustained observations and measurements that will provide long-term monitoring, further scientific understanding and improve models. This focus includes the use of unmanned and autonomous vehicles and the collection of remote sensing data. “We need to build the operational data set,” Harper noted, “not only for the science that we need to do, but also to provide real-time awareness to operational forces.” Improved understanding and enhanced data collection support the third focus: the development of computer models that include the influence of ocean, atmosphere, ice and waves.

 

“The goal is to build system models that operate in high resolution, capture important Arctic processes and assimilate all this data,” Harper said, “and then run these models out to the future to predict not only what will happen in the next few days, but to also provide seasonal guidance as well as looking out multi-year to decades to figure out how fast the ice will continue to diminish.”

 

Exercise Cold Response

Nearly 1,500 U.S. service members were  scheduled to take part in Exercise Cold Response 20 in Norway from March 9-18. The U.S. will be represented by service members from the United States Marine Corps, the United States Navy, the United States Army, and the United States Air Force who will join forces with Norway and eight other allied and partner nations. In total, some 15,000 personnel will take part in this large-scale, tactical field training exercise, which is being hosted by the Kingdom of Norway. Cold Response 20 is designed to enhance military capabilities and allied cooperation in high-intensity warfighting in a challenging Arctic environment with rugged terrain and extreme cold weather.

 

Cold Response was cancelled after 10 days, as the first wave of COVID-19 infections hit Norway. Then, the 15,000 soldiers from Norway and nine allied countries had to put down their weapons and pack up.

 

In March 2021, Norway canceled allied exercise over COVID-19 safety concerns. Nearly 3,000 NATO soldiers from the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany and the United States can pack up and leave northern Norway as the government on Tuesday called off the Joint Viking exercise and other allied winter training, said the release.

 

 

 

References and Resources also include:

http://www.naval-technology.com/news/newsus-coast-guard-awards-five-contracts-worth-20m-for-heavy-polar-icebreaker-design-studies-5749993

http://www.voanews.com/a/china-arctic-activities-demand-closer-us-attention/3579985.html

http://www.marinelog.com/index.php?option%3Dcom_k2%26view%3Ditem%26id%3D23782:video-onr-looks-at-implications-of-a-less-icy-arctic%26Itemid%3D230

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/world/arctic-climate-change-military-russia-china/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.385db991ae12

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