U.S. Navy’s Partnerships, Learning, Strength and Teamwork Vital to Arctic’s Stable Future

Rear Adm. Stuart Munsch, Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5B), delivered the following remarks during the 7 th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations at the Burke Theater, Naval Heritage Center at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., July 18.

Adm. John Richardson, our Chief of Naval Operations, has articulated his vision for the future in an idea he calls “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority.” In the design, he reminds us the U.S. Navy’s mission is to be ready to conduct prompt and sustained combat incident to operations at sea and that we will protect America from attack and preserve America’s strategic influence in key regions of the world.

The design recognizes our world has become dramatically more globalized, and the trend is accelerating. In accounting for the reality of our time, the design implores us to acknowledge how emerging technology, the rise of the global information, and the classic maritime system are interlinked. It recognizes that shipping traffic over traditional sea lanes is increasing, new trade routes are opening in the Arctic, and new technologies are making undersea resources more accessible. An important line of effort in fulfilling our design is to expand and strengthen the Navy’s network of partners. The Arctic is an area of cooperation and partnership. The region has been conflict-free, largely due to the extraordinary efforts of inter-governmental fora, such as the very important Arctic Council, which is committed to promoting cooperation and interaction among the eight Arctic countries, six Arctic Indigenous peoples’ organizations, 13 non-Arctic countries, 13 inter-governmental, and 13 non-governmental organizations that have an interest in the Arctic, all of which are committed to sustainable development and responsible environmental and social assessments in the region.

In keeping with the design and its themes that call for deepening of operational relationships with other services, agencies, allies and partners, U.S. Navy forces operating in the Arctic are far more likely to provide a supporting role to the U.S. Coast Guard for search and rescue operations, and to support interagency and international partners, if needed, for civil activities. But, be assured that the Navy is and will stay focused on its primary mission to be prepared to prevent conflict and ensure that national interests are protected.

We’ve been in the Arctic for quite a while; the world’s first successful submarine transit of the geographic North Pole was conducted by USS Nautilus in 1958, heralding the start of successful, extended Arctic undersea exploration and operation. Since then, the U.S. Navy regularly and routinely operates and conducts undersea exercises in the Arctic Ocean, and collaborates and cooperates with other Arctic nations by participating in multinational exercises, including “ICEX” held every two years. Through its Arctic presence, the Navy’s submarine force is able to contribute to our homeland defense. Although we patrol the Arctic with our undersea and air assets, the Arctic is expected to remain a low-threat security environment. It is very encouraging that nations have […]