U.S. Air Force and cold facts of the new Arctic strategy

As conditions change in the Arctic region, the Department of the Air Force has revealed a new strategy for how it will contribute to regional stability there, what new partnerships it should pursue and how its mission might evolve.

By C. Todd Lopez

Within the U.S. military, the Department of the Air Force has the largest presence in the Arctic region, with assets in both Alaska and Greenland. As the environment changes in the Arctic, new routes for transportation have opened up and new resources are being discovered. This creates both new opportunities in the region as well as new security challenges, the secretary of the Air Force said.

“Historically, the Arctic, like space, was characterized as a predominantly peaceful domain,” Barbara A. Barrett, said today during a panel discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council. “This is changing with expanded maritime access, newly discovered resources and competing sovereign interests.”

Russia, she said, has the largest permanent military presence in the Arctic — no other country matches its presence there. “Recent Russian investments in the Arctic include a network of offensive air assets and coastal missile systems,” she said. “The Arctic defines Russia. Almost 25% of Russia’s [gross domestic product] comes from … north of the Arctic Circle, … mostly from hydrocarbons.” READ MORE AND SEE THE IMPRESSIVE IMAGES HERE