A US security strategy for the Arctic

A U.S. Security Strategy for the Arctic was posted to War on the Rocks by David Auerswald on May 27, 2021. Auerswald is a professor of security studies at the U.S. National War College in Washington, DC. In the article Auerswald details the geopolitical competition in the Arctic from Russia and China, the shortcomings of the current patchwork US approach, and he promotes three goals for a reinvigorated US Arctic security strategy:

  1. Deter military attacks against U.S. or allied territory originating from the Arctic
  2. Prevent China or Russia from weakening existing rules-based Arctic governance through coercion, and;
  3. Prevent regional hegemony by either China or Russia.

Auerswald promotes a three-pronged strategy to accomplish these goals:

  1. Develop military capabilities for use in the North American and European Arctic subregions and then demonstrate the ability to use them in harsh Arctic conditions;
  2. Persuade regional allies and partners that the United States can be a trusted security partner in the region;
  3. Induce the private sector to build dual-use Arctic infrastructure that benefits the private sector while giving the military platforms from which to observe and operate in the Arctic.

To his credit he adds a section often missing from wish-list approaches to public policy, a nice summary of constraints that includes a harsh and changing climate and limits to budgets and means. His proposals to deal with those constraints are to increase presence through economic and technical (satellite, UAVs) means.

Another value-add in the article is the summary table of the respective Arctic strategies of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (2019), US Air Force (2020), US Navy (2021), and US Army (2021). Auerwald closes with a call for the Biden administration to publish a new Arctic strategy to update the last presidential document, the Obama administration’s 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region.