Reflecting the growing global competition for influence and strategic advantage on top of the world, the Department of Defense named Iris A. Ferguson as “Deputy Assistant Secretary for Arctic and Global Resilience,” a new position to coordinate U.S. military policy . critical section.
The office will be the focal point of Arctic strategy, which includes three geographic combatant commands: U.S. Northern Command, Indo-Pacific Command and European Command. Ms. Ferguson will help the military define Arctic priorities and develop partnerships with allies and partners.
It will also oversee the newly created Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, named after the late Alaska Republican senator . Critics say the U.S. is lagging far behind Russia and other rivals in the rush to gain dominance in the Arctic as the planet warms, freeing up natural resources and opening new shipping lanes.
“Having such an office now is important to lay the groundwork for how we can best prepare and understand the challenges that may lie ahead,” Ms Ferguson said. “There may be no conflict right now, hopefully never in the Arctic, but we need to be prepared to do business there.”
Changing climate conditions have opened up the Arctic for more civilian maritime traffic and military operations by strategic rivals such as Russia and China. Russia has the largest landmass in the Arctic and considers itself a superpower in the region. The Kremlin has been rapidly increasing its military capabilities in the Arctic.
The United States, in cooperation with Canada, maintains missile defense facilities, radar positions, and early warning sites in the Arctic through the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The Army recently established the 11th Airborne Division in the region to develop Arctic expertise in mobility and extreme cold weather operations. The Air Force also maintains a top-notch air combat force there.
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Ms Ferguson said the Arctic “is a key region for power projection and homeland defence”.