The following is from the U.S. Navy’s Arctic Roadmap: 2014-2030, released on Feb. 24, 2014.
The United States is an Arctic nation through the state of Alaska and its surrounding territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone waters located in and around the Arctic Circle. The United States Navy, as the maritime component of the Department of Defense, has global leadership responsibilities to provide ready forces for current operations and contingency response that include the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic Region remains a challenging operating environment, with a harsh climate, vast distances, and little infrastructure. These issues, coupled with limited operational experience, are just a few substantial challenges the Navy will have to overcome in the Arctic Region. While the Region is expected to remain a low threat security environment where nations resolve differences peacefully, the Navy will be prepared to prevent conflict and ensure national interests are protected.
In the coming decades, the Arctic Ocean will be increasingly accessible and more broadly used
by Arctic and non-Arctic nations seeking the Region’s abundant resources and trade routes. Due
to the significant retreat of sea ice, previously unreachable areas have started to open for
maritime use several weeks each year. The predicted rise in oil and gas development, fishing,
￼Arctic nations make investments. Despite this gradual ice opening, the Region’s frequent harsh
￼weather and sea conditions are significant limiting factors for Arctic Ocean operations.
This update of the 2009 Navy Arctic Roadmap provides guidance necessary to prepare the Navy to respond effectively to future Arctic Region contingencies, delineates the Navy’s leadership role, and articulates the Navy’s support to achieve national priorities in the Region. Navy functions in the Arctic Region are no different from those in other maritime regions; however, the Arctic Region environment makes the execution of many of these functions4 much more challenging.