During the Obama and Trump administrations there was concern in some quarters about a stagnation of US Arctic policy, even as other nations were stepping up their interest and activities in the region – including a doubling in 2013 of the number of Arctic Council observer states that included China.
Fast-forward just a few years and the situation has changed rapidly, beginning with the 2019 release of the Department of Defense Arctic Strategy and the subsequent releases in 2020 and 2021 of Arctic strategies for the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Department of Homeland Security. President Biden’s August 2022 announcement that an Arctic ambassador will be appointed, followed by his October release of an updated National Strategy for the Arctic Region, leave no doubt that Arctic security policy is front and center for some time to come.
A visual representation of key documents and events in US Arctic security policy shows a clear acceleration of official US Arctic security policy pronouncements in recent years:
Current analysis, even prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, focuses on the increased geopolitical competition in the Arctic, much of which is due to increased economic opportunities as a result of receding sea ice. There are even calls for a new Arctic national security strategy to accompany the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and National Military Strategy.
In a future article we will examine the flow of Arctic security policy objectives from these levels through the individual department and service strategies.