As the US reorients its Arctic policy in response to Russia, friends provide critical information

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As the US reorients its Arctic policy in response to Russia, friends provide critical information.

Since the Cold War, the Arctic has gotten relatively little military attention, but US strategy is evolving toward a greater emphasis on the region, in response to increased Russian military operations there.

Recent Army, Air Force, and Navy Arctic policies place a premium on enhancing operational capabilities and capability in the region. Along with their own efforts, US forces may benefit from the expertise and capabilities of partners and allies with substantial Arctic experience.

Arctic conditions necessitate the use of specialist equipment and methods. Fluids ranging from lubricants to pharmaceuticals freeze rapidly, solids become brittle, and electronics malfunction. Individuals that enter this environment are need to wear specialist clothes in order to survive, however this clothing impairs dexterity and operational effectiveness. Extreme weather churns the seas, piling ice onto ships and equipment and engulfing personnel in blinding fog.

On land, runways and roadways may be icy, and the soil may be impervious to tent spikes. At the top of the earth, communications are hampered by unique polar ionospheric phenomena, as are the region’s huge distances from the rest of the world. Continuous darkness or sunlight might have an effect on operating hours. Inadequate infrastructure limits the ability to provide logistical, medical, and rescue assistance. In general, materiel, operational ideas, tactics, and procedures developed for lower latitudes must be significantly revised for the Arctic.

The US is not alone in confronting these difficult, geographically unique challenges. For decades, allies and partners with Arctic territory have adapted modern warfighting equipment, strategies, and procedures for this climate. US forces might take lessons learned from these nations and employ similar equipment. Cooperative efforts continue in the form of training, exercises, and bilateral and trilateral agreements. At any given time, approximately 1,000 US Marines are cycling through northern Norway. Additionally, the US recently signed deals with Norway to construct facilities on Norwegian military bases.

While Sweden and Finland are not NATO members, they have close connections with the alliance and the United States; both nations have training, medical, and logistical facilities available to the alliance.

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