The U.S. Navy released its new strategy on how it plans to become more assertive in the Arctic as the region opens up to more economic and military activity from Russia and China.
According to the new strategy paper called a Blue Arctic, the US Navy will run regular patrols “in a more permanent manner” to deter aggressive activity in the High North, and the Navy-Marine Corps will modernize its naval force to advance U.S. interests in the region.
The strategic blueprint outlines regional challenges facing the United States in the Arctic Region in the coming years, ranging from the evolving physical environment to intensified military activities of China and Russia.
“Without sustained American naval presence and partnerships in the Arctic Region, peace and prosperity will be increasingly challenged by Russia and China, whose interests and values differ dramatically from ours,” the blueprint states.
Secretary of Navy Kenneth Braithwaite says the blueprint guides how the US Department of the Navy will continue to provide the right levels and types of presence on, under, and above Arctic water, ensuring America is prepared to compete effectively and efficiently to maintain favorable balances of power.
“As our naval force continues to meet the challenging demands of a Blue Arctic in this era of Great Power Competition, the Department of the Navy remains committed to protecting the Arctic environment and ensuring naval forces do their part to help preserve it,” he added.
Responding to a question whether the US Navy would be conducting freedom of navigation operations off the northern coast of Russia, Braithwaite stressed that the US is going to guarantee that freedom of navigation exists for its partners.
“It’s sort of the same situation in the South China Sea that when we look at freedom of navigation operations and the ability to operate in international waters, the United States claims the right to be able to do that,” he said.
“Russia is investing heavily to enhance its Arctic defense and economic sectors, with a resultant multilayered militarization of its northern flank,” the document states. “By modernizing its military capabilities and posture – particularly the Northern Fleet – Russia aims to improve command and control, infrastructure, and joint force employment to project power and defend its northern approaches.”
“U.S. Naval forces must operate more assertively across the Arctic Region to prevail in day-to-day competition as we protect the homeland, keep Arctic seas free and open, and deter coercive behavior and conventional aggression. Our challenge is to apply naval power through day-to-day competition in a way that protects vital national interests and preserves regional security without undermining trust and triggering conflict,” the strategy reads.
The blueprint is guided by the objectives articulated in the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, Department of Defense Arctic Strategy, and Advantage at Sea.