Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

US steps up military strategy in ‘diminishing’ Arctic region

Photo: UK Ministry of Defence via Flickr

The US Department of Defence has issued an Arctic Strategy, which outlines how it plans to turn the vulnerable area into a “secure and stable region where US national interests are safeguarded”.

The document, which was issued by US secretary of defence Chuck Hagel this week, sets out US plans to respond to a vastly “diminishing” region of the globe. The strategy builds on recent US Arctic policy statements issued in May and August, in which Barack Obama committed to enabling “vessels and aircraft to operate, consistent with international law through, under, and over the airspace and waters of the Arctic.”

The new document, however, sets out ways in which natural resources that are being exposed by the melting ice, caused by global warming, can be exploited.

“The Arctic is at a crucial point in its transformation from a relatively isolated region to one where receding ice is enabling increased human access”, Hagel said in a statement.

“As climate change and the viability of new energy sources shape the global environment, these shifts will affect our strategic outlook going forward, especially in the Arctic.”

There are many groups that advocate for exploration for gas, oil and other natural minerals in the region to be halted amid fears that the region could be affected forever. Back in July, six activists from environmental campaign group Greenpeace climbed the Shard, the tallest building in London, in protest against oil giant Shell’s drilling in the region.

The same month, a group of rowers set off on a journey to cross the north-west passage, a journey they say would not have been possible a few years before, in an attempt to highlight the vast changes that the Arctic is being subjected to as a result of global warming.

Further reading:

The Arctic: an untouched frontier made vulnerable by greed

Arctic ice melt forces Russian scientist to abandon research station

Arctic ice reaches record low with more melting expected

China among six nations to be made Arctic Council observers

International Arctic forum launched to help alleviate region’s threats

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