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The Arctic Policy Ecosystem from the Perspective of the US Executive Branch

The Arctic is hot these days, and it's not just the climate. The United States in particular has accelerated its policy activities as we covered in a recent timeline analysis . A mere week after we published that article came the announcement by the Department of Defense that it is establishing an Arctic Strategy and Resilience Office , with an affiliated Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense to head it. The new office announcement itself follows on the heels of the announcement, just a month prior, of a new Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region. The proliferation of offices and roles for Arctic policy set our heads spinning, so we did what we do best, and that was to create a map of the Arctic policy ecosystem as we understand it. This is our first draft, and we will see how it proofs out over time: One of the first things we figured out early was that we needed to choose a perspective or else end up with a Pentagon-class spaghetti monster . We chose the perspective of the Ex
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A Timeline of US Arctic Security Policy

During the Obama and Trump administrations there was concern in some quarters about a stagnation of US Arctic policy , even as other nations were stepping up their interest and activities in the region - including a doubling in 2013 of the number of Arctic Council observer states  that included China. Fast-forward just a few years and the situation has changed rapidly, beginning with the 2019 release of the Department of Defense Arctic Strategy and the subsequent releases in 2020 and 2021 of Arctic strategies for the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Department of Homeland Security. Perhaps the capstone is the announcement by President Biden that an Arctic ambassador will be appointed. A visual representation of key documents and events in US Arctic security policy shows a clear acceleration of official US Arctic security policy pronouncements: Current analysis, even prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, focuses on the  increased geopolitical competition  

Alaska Steps Up Support of US Arctic Policy

Alaska was famously described by Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell in 1935 as "The most strategic place on earth." Alaska-based assets have been particularly active lately in supporting the Arctic policy of the United States. Last month the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony to become the newest Department of Defense regional center . Alaskan Command on August 26 hosted Arctic Resolve 2022 , "The first of the three-day exercise [consisting] of a series of academic briefings pertaining to the nature of seismic activity, natural disaster emergency preparation, and the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s role in disaster response." Space Force "started building a gateway site at Clear Space Force Station, Alaska, where it will operate two new polar communications payloads scheduled to launch in 2023 on a Space Norway mission." The Enhanced Polar Systems-Recapitalization (EPS-R) pa

Review: The Routledge Handbook of Arctic Security

First published in 2020 and newly available in paperback , The Routledge Handbook of Arctic Security is an edited collection of essays on Arctic security topics by an array of academics and researchers, the majority of them from Norway. In recent years Routledge has published quite a few good titles on economic, environmental, and security policy in the Arctic, and this one is no exception. Editors Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv, Marc Lanteigne, and Horatio Sam-Aggrey, present two introductory chapters followed by thirty-three chapters in a hefty 462 pages. The non-introductory chapters are 10-15 pages in length and are organized into five sections that also feature a number of figures, tables and maps: Theorizing Arctic Security The Arctic powers: "Arctic Five" and "Arctic Eight" Security in the Arctic through governance Non-Arctic states, regional, and international organizations People, states, and security The introductory chapter argues that historical tendencies to

Visualizing Arctic Policy Actors

Over a decade ago John Allen Paulos, Professor of Mathematics at Temple University and author of multiple books on the intersection of numbers and narratives, published an intriguing article in the New York Times wherein he observed, "In listening to stories we tend to suspend disbelief in order to be entertained, whereas in evaluating statistics we generally have an opposite inclination to suspend belief in order not to be beguiled." Stories and data are both important of course, and while it may not be surprising that we treat them in different ways it is critical for policy advocates to know that as humans we have evolved to have a preference for stories over data. This was illustrated in a 2007 experiment that showed that a story alone beat both data and a combination of story and data in soliciting donations for a worthy cause. Another quote from Chip Heath, author of Made to Stick, drives the point home : "In the average one-minute speech, the typical student us

Biden Elevates Arctic Policy with Ambassador-at-Large

On August 26, 2022, President Biden moved Arctic policy higher on the national agenda with the announcement of a new  ambassador-at-large position for the Arctic region: "The Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region will advance U.S. policy in the Arctic, engage with counterparts in Arctic and non-Arctic nations as well as Indigenous groups, and work closely with domestic stakeholders, including state, local, and Tribal governments, businesses, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, other federal government agencies and Congress." Once a nominee is selected that person will have to be confirmed by the Senate. Arctic policy is currently overseen by a coordinator within the State Department, so this escalation has the potential to significantly increase activity in the policy sphere. The move follows on other recent actions by the administration focused on the Arctic, such as the reactivation of the Arctic Steering Committee last year. The announcement also comes a

Arctic Chiefs of Defence Forum Convenes for First Time Since 2014

On hiatus since Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea, the Arctic Chiefs of Defense Forum - less Russia - convened in St. John's, Canada, on August 8, to discuss cooperation among the nations. Russia indicated in January it wanted to resume these meeting s after assuming its second two-year chair of the Arctic Council last year. This was short-circuited by their March invasion of Ukraine, which caused all the non-Russian members of the Council to issue a joint statement suspending participation in the Council. It is unclear that Russian participation in the Forum would have any utility, and in fact it could actually be counterproductive as Russia would use the Forum to attempt to normalize its extralegal behavior, both in the Arctic and elsewhere. Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyr, stated after the meeting , "We will continue to work closely with our allies and partners in strengthening our domain awareness, surveillance, and command and control capabili