Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ice, Ice, Baby

A US think tank advocates giving NORTHCOM responsibility for the Arctic region, currently divided among other regional commands.

Should we give the Arctic to Northern Command (NORTHCOM)?

The Defense Department should make US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) the combatant command responsible for overseeing the Arctic, the CNA Military Advisory Board, a federally funded think tank, states in a May report.

This is better than divided command. And it is good that we are thinking about the region. We need to:

The most accessible resources are within national boundaries and are undisputed. Security analysts say the risk of conflict lies further ahead, if and when the ice melts enough to uncover resources in areas where ownership is unclear. The U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia are expected to have overlapping claims.

Critics say the U.S. is lagging behind in the race. A recent climate change report by a panel of retired generals found that despite a slew of planning documents, the U.S. has limited capabilities to operate in the Arctic. It said the Coast Guard has only one fully ready icebreaker and the U.S. Navy has few ice-hardened vessels that can operate in the Arctic, other than nuclear submarines.

I don't have my panties in a twist over the global warming Apocalypse worries, but a warming Arctic does open up room for friction between nations.

But I'd rather have a separate Polar Command (POLARCOM) that can focus on the unique training, equipment, and operating needs of surviving and fighting in that environment. It's more than just an extra pair of socks.