Thursday, January 22, 2015

Where Even Hot Wars are Cold

Russia is moving to militarize the Arctic. If we haven't established POLARCOM to avoid fueling Russian paranoia, that ship sailed long ago.

The Arctic is being militarized whether we like the idea or not:

Although the crisis in Ukraine continues to focus attention on Russia's western border, Moscow is seeking to exploit a more lucrative prize along its vast northern frontage: the Arctic Circle. Melting ice has opened up new transit routes and revealed previously inaccessible oil and mineral deposits. Facing a year of harsh economic constraints, securing exploitable energy reserves remains a top priority for Moscow. The planned militarization of the Arctic is already underway, and funding is secured through 2015 (the Ministry of Defense was the only Kremlin ministry not to be curtailed in the most recent budget.) With Russia aiming to consolidate its strength by the end of the year, surrounding countries are already reassessing their positions in the face of an overwhelming regional force. ...

Militarizing the Arctic will be a key imperative for the Russian military throughout 2015 and beyond — alongside modernization in general and bolstering forces in Crimea and the Kaliningrad exclave. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Soviet-era bases in the Arctic are being reactivated in response to NATO's renewed interest in the region.

It's about time we had a Polar Command (POLARCOM). We've taken steps in that direction, but so far have held back.

Although oddly enough, who knows if Russia will be confronting America and NATO or China over Russia's expansive Arctic ambitions.

As an aside, while I've called for us to move the focus of the Marines from Norway (where we have a lot of equipment stored) to the Baltic states in light of Russia's Ukraine aggression, if the Arctic is to receive more of our attention and if the Marines do refocus on the Baltic, it would probably be wise to train and focus our 10th Mountain Division for Norway and related areas north.