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US working on new Arctic strategy

02 August 2018
US Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a medium icebreaker, in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska during an Arctic deployment in support of scientific research and polar operations on 29 July 2017.

The United States could have a new Arctic strategy before the end of the year, according to Admiral Karl Schultz, the US Coast Guard (USCG) commandant.

“We are working on a rewrite [of] the Arctic Strategy,” Adm Schultz said on 1 August after a discussion about the state of the USCG at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The revamped strategy, the admiral said, would likely focus more on “national security” efforts and would likely be released within about three months.

The United States can no longer only worry about what it plans to do about Arctic operations in the future, said Adm Schultz, but must take more direct action now.

“It’s no longer an emerging frontier,” he said. “It’s a competitive space, it is about competition. We’ve got to press into that.”

While the United States struggles to find funding and resources to build an icebreaker fleet, for example, Russia has a substantial fleet operating in the region and is building a nuclear icebreaker.

China, meanwhile, which is not officially an Arctic nation, is building its own icebreakers, Adm Schultz noted. The country recently declared itself a “near-Arctic” state.

The United States needs at least six icebreakers, said the admiral, three of which should be heavy icebreakers.

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