Russia’s Arctic Militarization ‘Disturbing,’ US Lawmakers Say

“When you look at what the Russians are doing in the Arctic, it is actually quite impressive –impressive, but disturbing,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Ala., told military leaders at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee Navy budget hearing.“The Russians are looking at adding four new combat brigades in the Arctic as our U.S. Army is thinking at pulling them out of there,” he said. “I think that would give Vladimir Putin a lot of joy. They are building 13 new airfields and conducting long-range air patrols off the coast of Alaska.”

Sullivan said the U.S. military is ill-advised to consider removing one or two Army Brigade Combat teams from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright in Alaska.

“That we would even contemplate taking one soldier away from Alaska is lunacy given Putin’s recent actions in the Arctic,” he said. “Alaska’s Army BCTs are the best cold-weather and mountain-hardened BCTs in the country.  The training makes them uniquely valuable to the U.S. Army and their presence in Alaska hopefully ensures that other nations never make us use them.”

Experts say the pace of melting ice and rising water temperatures is expected to open more waterways in the region and possibly new sea-routes for commercial shipping, transport, strategic military presence and adventure tourism. The developments carry geopolitical and national-security risks, as well.

Although the thinning of the Arctic ice was reported by Navy submarines in the 1990s, there have been considerable changes to the environment since that time, said Robert Freeman, spokesman for the oceanographer of the Navy.

“As the ice melts in the Arctic our responsibilities go up. It is not just platforms and capabilities — it is what we are facing,” he said. “We not only have less ice but it is freezing in different ways. The ice is forming in different ways that are beginning to be a hazard to navigation. We’re upping our exercises and research into the area.”

Full article: Russia’s Arctic Militarization ‘Disturbing,’ US Lawmakers Say (Defense Tech)

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