GAO Report on U.S. Arctic Priorities

November 30, 2023 8:49 AM

The following is the Nov. 29, 2023, Government Accountability Office report, Arctic Region :Factors That Affect the Advancement of U.S. Priorities.

From the report

Current geopolitical trends indicate the Arctic region is growing more important to the United States and its allies and strategic adversaries. For example, record low coverage of sea ice has made Arctic waters navigable for longer periods and has increased opportunities for shipping in the region. We have also reported on the impacts of climate change on Alaska Natives, who have inhabited the Arctic region for thousands of years and whose ways of life are particularly sensitive to environmental changes.

In addition, the escalation of great power competition between the United States, Russia, and China has heightened tensions in the Arctic’s geopolitical environment. For example, both Russia and China have developed Arctic strategies with geopolitical goals contrary to U.S. interests, with Russia seeking to consolidate sovereign claims and control access to the region and China aiming to gain access to Arctic resources and sea routes to secure and bolster its military, economic, and scientific rise. In September 2022 and August 2023, the United States monitored Chinese and Russian military vessels conducting joint exercises off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea and near the Aleutian Islands, respectively.

The United States has articulated its interests in the Arctic through a series of strategies since the early 1970s. The federal government published its most recent Arctic strategy in October 2022 and an implementation plan in October 2023. Together, these serve as a framework for guiding its approach to addressing emerging challenges and opportunities in the Arctic.

he strategy identified four pillars (or priorities) spanning domestic and international issues: (1) security, (2) climate change and environmental protection, (3) sustainable economic development, and (4) international cooperation and governance. The implementation plan includes specific actions for agencies to take to address these four pillars. For example, the plan outlines actions for the Department of Defense and other federal agencies to take to deter threats and aggression in the region.

Download the report here.

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