March 15, 2019

Trump administration’s new Arctic defense strategy expected to zero in on concerns about China

Featuring Jim Townsend

Source: The Washington Post

Journalist Dan Lamothe

The Trump administration is drafting a new Arctic defense strategy focusing heavily on competition with China, whose expansion around the world has drawn increasing scrutiny from senior U.S. officials.

The document will outline how the Pentagon “can best defend U.S. national interests and support security and stability in the Arctic,” said Johnny Michael, a Pentagon spokesman. It will do so, he said, within the framework of the Pentagon’s national defense strategy, which last year emphasized shifting the military away from counterterrorism operations to “great-power competition” with Russia and China.

Both the Defense Department and the White House’s National Security Council will be involved in writing the document, which was mandated by Congress and must be delivered to lawmakers by June.

The discussions come as U.S. defense officials increasingly turn their eyes north, noting how the receding polar sea ice is opening new paths for sea vessels. In recent months, the Pentagon sailed an aircraft carrier above the Arctic Circle for the first time in decades, added more fighter jets to Alaska and made plans to add Navy P-8s, submarine-hunting reconnaissance planes, in Iceland.

“We welcome any country to operate in the Arctic as long as that presence is in compliance with international norms and rules of behavior,” Michael said. “The United States and its Arctic ally and partner nations work together in numerous forums to address shared regional concerns including fisheries management, shipping safety and scientific research.”

Read the full article in The Washington Post.

  • Jim Townsend

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    James Joye Townsend Jr. is an adjunct senior fellow in the CNAS Transatlantic Security Program. After eight years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for European ...