WASHINGTON — U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville teased a virtual audience by discussing the recently completed Arctic strategy and emphasizing it would provide the U.S. with capabilities to compete and deter conflict in the region.
The Army’s strategy recognizes “where our national interests are,” McConville said during an Association of the U.S. Army virtual event on Jan. 19, “and we certainly have and share national interests up in the Arctic.”
The “situation” is changing in the Arctic, he said, “and there’s more freedom of movement. We certainly want to make sure we protect our interests there and what we are doing in the Army and, certainly, as we look at Alaska, which sits in a very prominent place in the Arctic, we want to have the appropriate capabilities offered from the Army so that we can protect those interests.”
Those capabilities include transforming a two-star headquarters into an operational headquarters, McConville said.
The Army is looking at establishing a multidomain task force in the region as well as an Arctic-capable brigade, he added.
The Army’s only operational MDTF is based in the Indo-Pacific Region, but the service is on its way — albeit more slowly — to stand one up in the European theater.
The task force in the Pacific has worked for several years to help validate the Army’s Multidomain Operations (MDO) war-fighting concept as the service transforms it into doctrine.
U.S. Northern Command leadership in recent years has said the Arctic — as it warms — means the Arctic is the first line of defense of the U.S. homeland.
The Arctic is receding at a rate of about 13 percent per decade giving way for more activity from friends and foes of the U.S.
Russian forces have long projected power and continue to build out the world’s largest icebreaker fleet and have been building air bases and sea ports to house weapons and other operational capabilities.
And China has also increased its presence and desire to operate in the Arctic, vying for natural resources in the region as well as trade routes opening up as the ice melts.