Essential Resources

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Congressional Research Service: The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. Issues such as Arctic territorial disputes; commercial shipping through the Arctic; Arctic oil, gas, and mineral exploration; endangered Arctic species; and increased military operations in the Arctic could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation or competition.

U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Strategic Outlook

For over 150 years, Americans have counted on the U.S. Coast Guard to proudly uphold American sovereignty, provide national security, and promote economic prosperity in the Arctic. Our important work is even more relevant as the northern approach to North America gains geo-strategic prominence. Access to the Arctic's vast energy, mineral, fisheries, and other commercial resources is growing at precisely the same time that global interests in these assets intensifies. The Nation's security demands in the region are both pressing and enduring. What was previously a region of energy interest and challenge is now an increasingly competitive domain.

U.S. Department of Defense Arctic Strategy

The 2019 DoD Arctic Strategy updates DoD’s strategic objectives for the Arctic region, in light of DoD’s renewed assessment of the evolving Arctic security environment and the release of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). Anchored in NDS goals and priorities, this updated Arctic strategy outlines DoD’s strategic approach for protecting U.S. national security interests in the Arctic in an era of strategic competition.

Identifying Potential Gaps in U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Capabilities

This Rand Corporation report, produced under contract with DHS, provides perspective on how to characterize potential gaps in order to develop clearer avenues ahead for mitigating them that cover a range of possible current and future USCG activities in the Arctic.

Closing the Arctic Capability Gap: U.S. Strategies and Funding Priorities for 2020

Increased accessibility and activity across the Arctic region is prompting the US and other nations to review and adjust their Arctic strategy, policy, research efforts and Military initiatives to maintain their own competitive advantage as it relates to leveraging the vast amount of resources and geographical advantages it holds. Download this infographic to learn more about:

  • Key areas of focus the U.S. needs to make up ground in the Arctic
  • Recent strategies emerging from the executive branch
  • Current investment plans as reflected in the President’s FY20 budget request
  • And more

U.S. Navy and Arctic Planning

GAO reviewed the Navy’s June 2018 Arctic assessment and found that it aligns with Department of Defense (DOD) assessments that the Arctic is at low risk for conflict and that DOD has the capabilities to execute the 2016 DOD Arctic Strategy. The June 2018 report also aligns with assessments of Arctic capabilities and gaps in the Navy’s 2014 roadmap for implementing the strategy. The June 2018 report states that the Navy can execute the strategy with subsurface, aviation, and surface assets. The report notes the significant limitations for operating surface ships in the Arctic, but states that the Navy has the capabilities required for executing the strategy, and so has no plan to design ice-hardened surface ships. In addition, DOD officials stated that the United States has options other than Navy surface ships for demonstrating the U.S. right to operate in the Arctic, including using Coast Guard vessels, Navy submarines, or military aircraft.