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Category Archives: Arctic

Navy EOD: Clearing the Arctic’s Sea Lanes for Our Fleet and Nation

By Capt. Oscar Rojas, Commodore, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One

Over the past two decades of war, Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) has become almost synonymous with enabling counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in the deserts and mountains of the Middle East, growing our expertise in improvised explosive device threats and clearing a safe path for America’s special operators downrange. As we grew our force significantly to face these threats, we maintained our ability to support the fleet in responding to conflicts at sea and in the littorals. In an era of great power competition, we recognize the threats of an emerging Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. We realize the important and incredibly specific role we hold in support of our Navy and our Nation. We are the only EOD force who is trained to eliminate and exploit underwater threats, and our expeditionary divers are the first naval assets on the scene to assist in salvaging ships and aircraft and clearing sea lanes and ports for use. This month, we shook the desert sand out of our boots and donned dry suits and cold-weather gear in Alaska as part of Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise 2019 to prepare our forces to operate in austere environments that could replicate future battlefields. As the Commander of U.S. Third Fleet’s Naval Expeditionary Combat Force (Combined Task Force 35), I mobilized our forces here for three reasons: to increase our agility in places we have not been in a long time; to test the limits of our technology, training, and logistics; and to build battle-mindedness across our force. 

Hunting Mines in the Gateway to the Arctic

One of the hallmarks of the EOD community is ensuring security and supporting safety not only for our Nation’s combat forces but also for the U.S. homeland. Additionally, we must prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies to preserve freedom of the seas and defend our sovereignty. Fittingly, the Department of Defense Arctic Strategy also calls for supporting these same objectives in the Arctic region. Our EOD forces, which include our expeditionary Navy divers, have expertise that is relevant to both large-scale military conflicts as well as low-intensity conflicts and regional posturing. Specifically, we are the only Navy community with mine warfare as a core competency for both our officers and enlisted, and our forces have exercised those capabilities in the Arctic waters off of Adak, Alaska this month. Sailors and Marines from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One’s expeditionary mine countermeasure (ExMCM) companies successfully tested their ability to operate unmanned underwater vehicles and conduct expeditionary mine countermeasures in very shallow Arctic waters. This is the farthest north our man-machine team has operated in the Western hemisphere and the first time Navy EOD employed ExMCM companies to enable access in a simulated denied environment for the United States Marine Corps’ Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force’s amphibious operations.

ADAK, Alaska (Sept. 2, 2019)Operations Specialist 1st Class Sean McNamara, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One (EODMU1), launches the Mk 18 Mod 2 Kingfish for an initial underwater survey of Sweeper Cove on Adak Island in the Alaska’s Aleutian chain. EODMU 1 is providing expeditionary mine countermeasures support in support of Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brandon Raile/Released)

As the Navy is responsible for supporting and enabling amphibious landings for the United States Marine Corps, a path to the beach should be determined free of danger before a landing force’s arrival. The very shallow water zone, defined as depths between 10 to 40 feet of water, presents unique environmental challenges that may limit underwater visibility and pose a greater danger of placing personnel in a minefield. During the exercise, the ExMCM company worked together with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), specifically the Mk 18 Mod 1 Swordfish and Mk 18 Mod 2 Kingfish, to ensure the very shallow water zone was free of hazards. The team conducted mine hunting, hydrographic surveys and intelligence preparation of the operational environment ahead of Expeditionary Strike Group Three who will be conducting amphibious operations in the region in the coming weeks. Navy EOD’s competitive edge lies in how our human Sailors, with their creativity, pattern recognition and innovation, can team with technology to give our Nation the strongest mine countermeasure force with the fewest blind spots, and we are adamant about improving that relationship daily. During AECE 2019, we identified opportunities to refine our tactics, techniques and procedures and intend to share these lessons learned so that America’s Navy is better prepared to fight for sea control in the Arctic environment.

Mobile Diving and Salvage Teams Providing Port Access

Just as our EOD forces support deterrence of aggression, promote freedom of navigation and will contribute directly in a future fight for sea control, so too do our expeditionary divers. Underwater hazards can be used to deny free access to ports, harbors and river and restrict movement through critical sea lines of communication. Sailors from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU-1), based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, mobilized to Adak, Alaska, to conduct a salvage and removal operation of the stranded fishing vessel Heritage that was blocking access to a boat ramp that is the primary launch point for commercial and private fishing vessels in the area. The abandoned fishing vessel prevented the local community from using the harbor to its full potential. The Navy divers conducted surveys and inspections on the fishing vessel in May to gain a full understanding of the job and what personnel and equipment would be required for the mission. After conducting the site survey, the divers found F/V Heritage was beyond salvageable due to its structural state, so they scrapped the vessel by cutting it in place until smaller sections of the vessel could be pulled onto shore for disposal. While this salvage and removal operation primarily focused on removing an underwater hazard for the community of Adak, it also provided realistic and relevant training for Navy divers in a cold-water environment to ensure they are ready to maintain physical access to ports and contribute to our Nation’s lethality whenever, wherever. Removing the fishing vessel not only removed a navigational hazard but also set the conditions for potential military training on Adak in the future.

ADAK, Alaska (Sept. 3, 2019) Navy Diver 1st Class Jack Dalziel, assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU 1), dismantles the hull of the F/V Heritage, an abandoned vessel that had been blocking access to a boat ramp on Adak Island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brandon Raile/Released)

MDSU-1 is one of only two such units in the entire U.S. that can clear ports by removing damaged or stranded vessels or returning them to sea. These units, comprised of Navy divers, engineering duty officers, explosive ordnance technicians, administrators, and medical teams, fall under the Navy EOD community because of the close relationship we share in conducting expeditionary diving objectives as well as the crossover between our two skillsets. Rest assured our Navy divers are combat-ready, rapidly deployable and able to conduct harbor clearance, salvage, underwater search and recovery, and underwater emergency repairs in any environment.

We were honored to assist the local community with such an important project in Adak, and we greatly appreciated their support of our EOD and dive teams while visiting. Like much of what we do, having a community that supports us makes our jobs easier and more enjoyable.

Commanding and Controlling Combat Forces

While our Navy EOD and dive teams conducted missions in Adak, our CTF 35 staff exercised our ability to command and control mine countermeasure forces from over 1,000 miles away in Anchorage. Typically mine countermeasure squadrons fulfill this role; however, in an expeditionary environment where a light, fast and precise ExMCM capability is needed, I wanted to ensure Navy EOD was ready to assume control of operations. Before arriving in Alaska, our team underwent mine countermeasures staff planning training in July to ensure we were properly prepared to support a mine warfare commander in combat. The procedures for employing and countering obstacles on land differ from those at sea, and after 17 years of land-focused warfare, I needed to know our staff understood how maritime forces work together to predict, detect, prevent, avoid, neutralize, protect and respond to potential hazards in the maritime domain.

Our communications team tested five different communications systems to support the command and control of our forces, including a test of our ability to conduct high-frequency communications, which has become a dying art form in recent years with the advent of satellite communications. In the future, it will be necessary to be able to establish communications in a denied environment if our satellite communications were to be hacked of jammed by an adversary.

Alaska (Sept. 3, 2019) Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 1 established high-frequency radio communications from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1 operating over 2,000 miles away in Adak, Ak., during Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise (AECE) 2019 with high frequency antennas. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Information Systems Technician Terry McCray-Matt/Released)

Instilling Battle-Mindedness

During the exercise, our training department created a rigorous expeditionary training schedule for Group One Sailors that included small arms training, land navigation, combat medicine training, counter-improvised explosive device, counter unmanned aerial systems and chemical weapon training. As members of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, we have all been equipped with basic expeditionary combat skills through the Expeditionary Combat School, but our training does not stop at the schoolhouse. This exercise proved it does not take an operator to be battle-ready or battle-minded. Every single one of the Sailors assigned to Group One understands the necessity of this training and why we must be able to fight tonight. That is what sets us apart from our adversaries and what sets us apart as an expeditionary combat force. From the third class petty officer in our administrative shop to our most veteran EOD operators, our Sailors will be our asymmetric advantage against our adversaries in a future high-end fight.

Where We Are Headed

Conditions in the Arctic are changing fast and Navy presence in the region will only continue to grow in the future. It is no coincidence that we exercised our capabilities in the port of Adak, which sits at the strategic intersection of the North Pacific Great Circle Route and the Northwest Passage, Transpolar and Northern Sea Routes. As Arctic sea lanes open and shipping traffic increases, U.S. maritime forces have a responsibility as global leaders to secure shipping lanes, protect natural resources, deter conflict and safeguard national interests. Navy EOD will be the premier EOD force for ensuring that our forces in the Arctic region remain undeterred by the threat of explosives. As we execute our mission of eliminating explosive threats so our fleet and Nation can fight and win, whenever and wherever they choose, we are keeping a close eye on future opportunities in the region, developing cutting-edge technology and updating tactics so that we can increase the lethality of Navy EOD and maintain our competitive edge against our adversaries. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to exercise our EOD and expeditionary diving capabilities in Alaska this month in support of the Navy and Marine Corps, and we thank the local community for their incredible support. We are already looking ahead to the future for more opportunities to train in Arctic waters in support of our nation’s objectives.

Capt. Oscar Rojas is currently serving as the Commodore of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One stationed in San Diego, California. Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One mans, trains, and equips seven subordinate units to eliminate explosive threats for our fleet and Nation in any environment.

https://navylive.dodlive.mil/2019/09/19/navy-eod-clearing-the-arctics-sea-lanes-for-our-fleet-and-nation/ poyrazdogany

Navy EOD: Clearing the Arctic’s Sea Lanes for Our Fleet and Nation

By Capt. Oscar Rojas, Commodore, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One

Over the past two decades of war, Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) has become almost synonymous with enabling counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in the deserts and mountains of the Middle East, growing our expertise in improvised explosive device threats and clearing a safe path for America’s special operators downrange. As we grew our force significantly to face these threats, we maintained our ability to support the fleet in responding to conflicts at sea and in the littorals. In an era of great power competition, we recognize the threats of an emerging Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. We realize the important and incredibly specific role we hold in support of our Navy and our Nation. We are the only EOD force who is trained to eliminate and exploit underwater threats, and our expeditionary divers are the first naval assets on the scene to assist in salvaging ships and aircraft and clearing sea lanes and ports for use. This month, we shook the desert sand out of our boots and donned dry suits and cold-weather gear in Alaska as part of Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise 2019 to prepare our forces to operate in austere environments that could replicate future battlefields. As the Commander of U.S. Third Fleet’s Naval Expeditionary Combat Force (Combined Task Force 35), I mobilized our forces here for three reasons: to increase our agility in places we have not been in a long time; to test the limits of our technology, training, and logistics; and to build battle-mindedness across our force. 

Hunting Mines in the Gateway to the Arctic

One of the hallmarks of the EOD community is ensuring security and supporting safety not only for our Nation’s combat forces but also for the U.S. homeland. Additionally, we must prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies to preserve freedom of the seas and defend our sovereignty. Fittingly, the Department of Defense Arctic Strategy also calls for supporting these same objectives in the Arctic region. Our EOD forces, which include our expeditionary Navy divers, have expertise that is relevant to both large-scale military conflicts as well as low-intensity conflicts and regional posturing. Specifically, we are the only Navy community with mine warfare as a core competency for both our officers and enlisted, and our forces have exercised those capabilities in the Arctic waters off of Adak, Alaska this month. Sailors and Marines from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One’s expeditionary mine countermeasure (ExMCM) companies successfully tested their ability to operate unmanned underwater vehicles and conduct expeditionary mine countermeasures in very shallow Arctic waters. This is the farthest north our man-machine team has operated in the Western hemisphere and the first time Navy EOD employed ExMCM companies to enable access in a simulated denied environment for the United States Marine Corps’ Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force’s amphibious operations.

ADAK, Alaska (Sept. 2, 2019)Operations Specialist 1st Class Sean McNamara, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One (EODMU1), launches the Mk 18 Mod 2 Kingfish for an initial underwater survey of Sweeper Cove on Adak Island in the Alaska’s Aleutian chain. EODMU 1 is providing expeditionary mine countermeasures support in support of Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brandon Raile/Released)

As the Navy is responsible for supporting and enabling amphibious landings for the United States Marine Corps, a path to the beach should be determined free of danger before a landing force’s arrival. The very shallow water zone, defined as depths between 10 to 40 feet of water, presents unique environmental challenges that may limit underwater visibility and pose a greater danger of placing personnel in a minefield. During the exercise, the ExMCM company worked together with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), specifically the Mk 18 Mod 1 Swordfish and Mk 18 Mod 2 Kingfish, to ensure the very shallow water zone was free of hazards. The team conducted mine hunting, hydrographic surveys and intelligence preparation of the operational environment ahead of Expeditionary Strike Group Three who will be conducting amphibious operations in the region in the coming weeks. Navy EOD’s competitive edge lies in how our human Sailors, with their creativity, pattern recognition and innovation, can team with technology to give our Nation the strongest mine countermeasure force with the fewest blind spots, and we are adamant about improving that relationship daily. During AECE 2019, we identified opportunities to refine our tactics, techniques and procedures and intend to share these lessons learned so that America’s Navy is better prepared to fight for sea control in the Arctic environment.

Mobile Diving and Salvage Teams Providing Port Access

Just as our EOD forces support deterrence of aggression, promote freedom of navigation and will contribute directly in a future fight for sea control, so too do our expeditionary divers. Underwater hazards can be used to deny free access to ports, harbors and river and restrict movement through critical sea lines of communication. Sailors from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU-1), based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, mobilized to Adak, Alaska, to conduct a salvage and removal operation of the stranded fishing vessel Heritage that was blocking access to a boat ramp that is the primary launch point for commercial and private fishing vessels in the area. The abandoned fishing vessel prevented the local community from using the harbor to its full potential. The Navy divers conducted surveys and inspections on the fishing vessel in May to gain a full understanding of the job and what personnel and equipment would be required for the mission. After conducting the site survey, the divers found F/V Heritage was beyond salvageable due to its structural state, so they scrapped the vessel by cutting it in place until smaller sections of the vessel could be pulled onto shore for disposal. While this salvage and removal operation primarily focused on removing an underwater hazard for the community of Adak, it also provided realistic and relevant training for Navy divers in a cold-water environment to ensure they are ready to maintain physical access to ports and contribute to our Nation’s lethality whenever, wherever. Removing the fishing vessel not only removed a navigational hazard but also set the conditions for potential military training on Adak in the future.

ADAK, Alaska (Sept. 3, 2019) Navy Diver 1st Class Jack Dalziel, assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU 1), dismantles the hull of the F/V Heritage, an abandoned vessel that had been blocking access to a boat ramp on Adak Island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brandon Raile/Released)

MDSU-1 is one of only two such units in the entire U.S. that can clear ports by removing damaged or stranded vessels or returning them to sea. These units, comprised of Navy divers, engineering duty officers, explosive ordnance technicians, administrators, and medical teams, fall under the Navy EOD community because of the close relationship we share in conducting expeditionary diving objectives as well as the crossover between our two skillsets. Rest assured our Navy divers are combat-ready, rapidly deployable and able to conduct harbor clearance, salvage, underwater search and recovery, and underwater emergency repairs in any environment.

We were honored to assist the local community with such an important project in Adak, and we greatly appreciated their support of our EOD and dive teams while visiting. Like much of what we do, having a community that supports us makes our jobs easier and more enjoyable.

Commanding and Controlling Combat Forces

While our Navy EOD and dive teams conducted missions in Adak, our CTF 35 staff exercised our ability to command and control mine countermeasure forces from over 1,000 miles away in Anchorage. Typically mine countermeasure squadrons fulfill this role; however, in an expeditionary environment where a light, fast and precise ExMCM capability is needed, I wanted to ensure Navy EOD was ready to assume control of operations. Before arriving in Alaska, our team underwent mine countermeasures staff planning training in July to ensure we were properly prepared to support a mine warfare commander in combat. The procedures for employing and countering obstacles on land differ from those at sea, and after 17 years of land-focused warfare, I needed to know our staff understood how maritime forces work together to predict, detect, prevent, avoid, neutralize, protect and respond to potential hazards in the maritime domain.

Our communications team tested five different communications systems to support the command and control of our forces, including a test of our ability to conduct high-frequency communications, which has become a dying art form in recent years with the advent of satellite communications. In the future, it will be necessary to be able to establish communications in a denied environment if our satellite communications were to be hacked of jammed by an adversary.

Alaska (Sept. 3, 2019) Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 1 established high-frequency radio communications from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1 operating over 2,000 miles away in Adak, Ak., during Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise (AECE) 2019 with high frequency antennas. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Information Systems Technician Terry McCray-Matt/Released)

Instilling Battle-Mindedness

During the exercise, our training department created a rigorous expeditionary training schedule for Group One Sailors that included small arms training, land navigation, combat medicine training, counter-improvised explosive device, counter unmanned aerial systems and chemical weapon training. As members of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, we have all been equipped with basic expeditionary combat skills through the Expeditionary Combat School, but our training does not stop at the schoolhouse. This exercise proved it does not take an operator to be battle-ready or battle-minded. Every single one of the Sailors assigned to Group One understands the necessity of this training and why we must be able to fight tonight. That is what sets us apart from our adversaries and what sets us apart as an expeditionary combat force. From the third class petty officer in our administrative shop to our most veteran EOD operators, our Sailors will be our asymmetric advantage against our adversaries in a future high-end fight.

Where We Are Headed

Conditions in the Arctic are changing fast and Navy presence in the region will only continue to grow in the future. It is no coincidence that we exercised our capabilities in the port of Adak, which sits at the strategic intersection of the North Pacific Great Circle Route and the Northwest Passage, Transpolar and Northern Sea Routes. As Arctic sea lanes open and shipping traffic increases, U.S. maritime forces have a responsibility as global leaders to secure shipping lanes, protect natural resources, deter conflict and safeguard national interests. Navy EOD will be the premier EOD force for ensuring that our forces in the Arctic region remain undeterred by the threat of explosives. As we execute our mission of eliminating explosive threats so our fleet and Nation can fight and win, whenever and wherever they choose, we are keeping a close eye on future opportunities in the region, developing cutting-edge technology and updating tactics so that we can increase the lethality of Navy EOD and maintain our competitive edge against our adversaries. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to exercise our EOD and expeditionary diving capabilities in Alaska this month in support of the Navy and Marine Corps, and we thank the local community for their incredible support. We are already looking ahead to the future for more opportunities to train in Arctic waters in support of our nation’s objectives.

Capt. Oscar Rojas is currently serving as the Commodore of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One stationed in San Diego, California. Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One mans, trains, and equips seven subordinate units to eliminate explosive threats for our fleet and Nation in any environment.

https://navylive.dodlive.mil/2019/09/19/navy-eod-clearing-the-arctics-sea-lanes-for-our-fleet-and-nation/ poyrazdogany

U.S. Navy’s Partnerships, Learning, Strength and Teamwork Vital to Arctic’s Stable Future

Rear Adm. Stuart Munsch, Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5B), delivered the following remarks during the 7th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations at the Burke Theater, Naval Heritage Center at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., July 18. 

Adm. John Richardson, our Chief of Naval Operations, has articulated his vision for the future in an idea he calls “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority.” In the design, he reminds us the U.S. Navy’s mission is to be ready to conduct prompt and sustained combat incident to operations at sea and that we will protect America from attack and preserve America’s strategic influence in key regions of the world.

The design recognizes our world has become dramatically more globalized, and the trend is accelerating. In accounting for the reality of our time, the design implores us to acknowledge how emerging technology, the rise of the global information, and the classic maritime system are interlinked. It recognizes that shipping traffic over traditional sea lanes is increasing, new trade routes are opening in the Arctic, and new technologies are making undersea resources more accessible.

An important line of effort in fulfilling our design is to expand and strengthen the Navy’s network of partners. The Arctic is an area of cooperation and partnership. The region has been conflict-free, largely due to the extraordinary efforts of inter-governmental fora, such as the very important Arctic Council, which is committed to promoting cooperation and interaction among the eight Arctic countries, six Arctic Indigenous peoples’ organizations, 13 non-Arctic countries, 13 inter-governmental, and 13 non-governmental organizations that have an interest in the Arctic, all of which are committed to sustainable development and responsible environmental and social assessments in the region.

In keeping with the design and its themes that call for deepening of operational relationships with other services, agencies, allies and partners, U.S. Navy forces operating in the Arctic are far more likely to provide a supporting role to the U.S. Coast Guard for search and rescue operations, and to support interagency and international partners, if needed, for civil activities.  But, be assured that the Navy is and will stay focused on its primary mission to be prepared to prevent conflict and ensure that national interests are protected.

We’ve been in the Arctic for quite a while; the world’s first successful submarine transit of the geographic North Pole was conducted by USS Nautilus in 1958, heralding the start of successful, extended Arctic undersea exploration and operation. Since then, the U.S. Navy regularly and routinely operates and conducts undersea exercises in the Arctic Ocean, and collaborates and cooperates with other Arctic nations by participating in multinational exercises, including “ICEX” held every two years. Through its Arctic presence, the Navy’s submarine force is able to contribute to our homeland defense.

Although we patrol the Arctic with our undersea and air assets, the Arctic is expected to remain a low-threat security environment. It is very encouraging that nations have demonstrated a sincere desire to leverage existing frameworks of cooperation to resolve disputes peacefully. Moreover, most nations are committed to the legal architecture set forth by the provisions of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to peacefully resolve differences.

Our design nests under the “National Strategy for the Arctic Region” that defines the desired end state as an Arctic region stable and free of conflict, where nations act responsibly in a spirit of trust and cooperation, and where economic and energy resources are developed in a sustainable manner.

Shortly after the National Strategy for the Arctic was released, the Department of Defense released its 2013 Arctic Strategy that identified its objectives to ensure security, support safety, and promote defense cooperation and to prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies. This strategy was updated in 2016 to sharpen its focus on homeland defense in light of changes to the international security environment. To supplement the national-level guidance, the Navy released its Arctic strategy in a document that I know many of you are familiar with that we call the Arctic Roadmap. Signed by the CNO, the Arctic Roadmap identifies four strategic objectives:

  • Ensuring sovereignty of the United States’ Arctic region;
  • Providing ready naval forces to respond to crises and contingencies;
  • Preserving freedom of navigation; and
  • Promoting partnerships within the U.S. government and with its international allies and partners.
ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 6, 2016) Fire Control Technician 1st Class David Toone examines the ice in search of ice that can be melted down and used for potable water during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. ICEX 2016 was a five-week exercise designed to research, test and evaluate operational capabilities in the region. ICEX 2016 allows the U.S. Navy to assess operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic Environment, and develop partnerships and collaborative efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Electronics Technician 2nd Class Nate Madlem/Released)
ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 06, 2016) – Fire Control Technician 1st Class David Toone examines the ice in search of ice that can be melted down and used for potable water during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. ICEX 2016 is a five-week exercise designed to research, test, and evaluate operational capabilities in the region. ICEX 2016 allows the U.S. Navy to assess operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic Environment, and develop partnerships and collaborative efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Electronics Technician 2nd Class Nate Madlem/Released)

In addition to identifying strategic objectives, the Navy has been following a measured plan designed to improve our future capacity to conduct operations and training, to seek opportunities in science and technology, to make better use of facilities and equipment, to enhance maritime domain awareness, and to advance environmental observation and prediction. The Arctic Roadmap enhances the line of effort in our design to deepen the dialogue with research and development labs and academia.

As we execute our maritime Arctic strategy, we are especially determined to ensure focus on a particular objective: our national security interest in preserving the Freedoms of Navigation and Overflight and of other lawful uses of the sea in the Arctic. The Navy will be consistent in its global approach to maintaining peace and stability and promoting respect for international law. To support freedom of navigation, we have several options in the Arctic:  Navy submarines can and do conduct Freedom of Navigation Operations, either undersea or on the surface.  Additionally, Navy surface ships can conduct operations in open water during the summer melt season. Most importantly, we support the National Fleet Plan where Coast Guard cutters, as sovereign immune vessels, can challenge excessive claims through Freedom of Navigation Operations. Moreover, because Freedom of Navigation Operations support international law, they can be conducted by any allied navy, as is currently being done in the South China Sea.  Strategic international partnerships are the key to ensuring a peaceful Arctic. In accordance with our design, we are engaged in extensive security cooperation activities and other military-to-military forms of engagement to establish, shape, and maintain international relations and the partnerships necessary to meet security challenges and reduce the potential for friction.

We are also able to achieve our national maritime Arctic strategy by working in close collaboration with U.S. Coast Guard to address gaps in Arctic communications, maritime domain awareness, search and rescue, and environmental observation and forecasting capabilities in support of both current and future planning and operations. The Navy and Coast Guard collaborate and complement each other’s unique capabilities and authorities.

Specifically, the Coast Guard concentrates on safety and security, addressing such missions as Arctic fisheries protection, search and rescue, and environmental protection, while the Navy concentrates on defense missions. Because of our deliberate and extensive planning and interoperability, both services seamlessly support each other when called.

ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 15, 2016) An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, assigned to the 210th Rescue Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard, and two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters assigned to the 1-207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army Air National Guard, fly over the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hampton (SSN 757) during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Thompson/Released)
ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 15, 2016) An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, assigned to the 210th Rescue Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard, and two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters assigned to the 1-207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army Air National Guard, fly over the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hampton (SSN 757) during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Thompson/Released)

 

Central to our Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, the Navy also works closely with our geographic combatant commands. Within their geographic area of responsibility, U.S. European Command and U.S. Pacific Command are fostering collaborative working relationships with regional partners. U.S. Northern Command, which has responsibility for the Arctic and Alaska, is the U.S. Department of Defense advocate for Arctic capabilities. Northern Command recently updated its plans for the Arctic and analyzed future capability requirements for this challenging and evolving region.

ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 10, 2016) The aurora borealis appears over Ice Camp Sargo as the sun sets during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Electronics Technician 2nd Class Nate Madlem/Released)
ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 10, 2016) The aurora borealis appears over Ice Camp Sargo as the sun sets during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Electronics Technician 2nd Class Nate Madlem/Released)

We continue to train and operate routinely in the region as we monitor the changing environment, revisiting assessments and taking action as conditions change. Our design encourages us to be receptive to innovation and creativity and to the lessons of history. It may be possible that the process by which non-military Arctic issues are being successfully resolved has the potential to serve as a model to resolve issues of national security among countries that have an interest in Arctic maritime stability.

We believe a near-term conflict over Arctic resources is unlikely, given the fairly high level of cooperation and adherence to international legal norms observed and practiced by Arctic and non-Arctic nations. For now, the Navy’s security posture remains appropriate for the Arctic. We have significant undersea capabilities and deep operational experience with our submarine force that routinely operates in the Arctic Ocean under the ice.  The Navy recognizes the strategic importance of the Arctic region, the national security implications of the diminishing sea ice of the Arctic Ocean, and the importance of free and unfettered navigation in this ocean.  The Navy also recognizes that an ice-diminished Arctic remains a very difficult maritime operating environment; the climate is harsh, the distances are vast, the infrastructure is limited, and darkness dominates the winter months.

In conclusion, as sea ice diminishes and the Arctic Ocean opens to more maritime activity, the Navy may be called upon more frequently to support other federal agencies and we will work with our international partners to ensure a secure, stable, and most importantly, a peaceful region. There are challenges ahead, but through our design and its principles of partnerships, learning, strength and teamwork the Navy will be vital to the Arctic’s stable future.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/07/21/u-s-navys-partnerships-learning-strength-and-teamwork-vital-to-arctics-stable-future/ U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy’s Partnerships, Learning, Strength and Teamwork Vital to Arctic’s Stable Future

Rear Adm. Stuart Munsch, Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5B), delivered the following remarks during the 7th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations at the Burke Theater, Naval Heritage Center at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., July 18. 

Adm. John Richardson, our Chief of Naval Operations, has articulated his vision for the future in an idea he calls “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority.” In the design, he reminds us the U.S. Navy’s mission is to be ready to conduct prompt and sustained combat incident to operations at sea and that we will protect America from attack and preserve America’s strategic influence in key regions of the world.

The design recognizes our world has become dramatically more globalized, and the trend is accelerating. In accounting for the reality of our time, the design implores us to acknowledge how emerging technology, the rise of the global information, and the classic maritime system are interlinked. It recognizes that shipping traffic over traditional sea lanes is increasing, new trade routes are opening in the Arctic, and new technologies are making undersea resources more accessible.

An important line of effort in fulfilling our design is to expand and strengthen the Navy’s network of partners. The Arctic is an area of cooperation and partnership. The region has been conflict-free, largely due to the extraordinary efforts of inter-governmental fora, such as the very important Arctic Council, which is committed to promoting cooperation and interaction among the eight Arctic countries, six Arctic Indigenous peoples’ organizations, 13 non-Arctic countries, 13 inter-governmental, and 13 non-governmental organizations that have an interest in the Arctic, all of which are committed to sustainable development and responsible environmental and social assessments in the region.

In keeping with the design and its themes that call for deepening of operational relationships with other services, agencies, allies and partners, U.S. Navy forces operating in the Arctic are far more likely to provide a supporting role to the U.S. Coast Guard for search and rescue operations, and to support interagency and international partners, if needed, for civil activities.  But, be assured that the Navy is and will stay focused on its primary mission to be prepared to prevent conflict and ensure that national interests are protected.

We’ve been in the Arctic for quite a while; the world’s first successful submarine transit of the geographic North Pole was conducted by USS Nautilus in 1958, heralding the start of successful, extended Arctic undersea exploration and operation. Since then, the U.S. Navy regularly and routinely operates and conducts undersea exercises in the Arctic Ocean, and collaborates and cooperates with other Arctic nations by participating in multinational exercises, including “ICEX” held every two years. Through its Arctic presence, the Navy’s submarine force is able to contribute to our homeland defense.

Although we patrol the Arctic with our undersea and air assets, the Arctic is expected to remain a low-threat security environment. It is very encouraging that nations have demonstrated a sincere desire to leverage existing frameworks of cooperation to resolve disputes peacefully. Moreover, most nations are committed to the legal architecture set forth by the provisions of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to peacefully resolve differences.

Our design nests under the “National Strategy for the Arctic Region” that defines the desired end state as an Arctic region stable and free of conflict, where nations act responsibly in a spirit of trust and cooperation, and where economic and energy resources are developed in a sustainable manner.

Shortly after the National Strategy for the Arctic was released, the Department of Defense released its 2013 Arctic Strategy that identified its objectives to ensure security, support safety, and promote defense cooperation and to prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies. This strategy was updated in 2016 to sharpen its focus on homeland defense in light of changes to the international security environment. To supplement the national-level guidance, the Navy released its Arctic strategy in a document that I know many of you are familiar with that we call the Arctic Roadmap. Signed by the CNO, the Arctic Roadmap identifies four strategic objectives:

  • Ensuring sovereignty of the United States’ Arctic region;
  • Providing ready naval forces to respond to crises and contingencies;
  • Preserving freedom of navigation; and
  • Promoting partnerships within the U.S. government and with its international allies and partners.
ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 6, 2016) Fire Control Technician 1st Class David Toone examines the ice in search of ice that can be melted down and used for potable water during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. ICEX 2016 was a five-week exercise designed to research, test and evaluate operational capabilities in the region. ICEX 2016 allows the U.S. Navy to assess operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic Environment, and develop partnerships and collaborative efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Electronics Technician 2nd Class Nate Madlem/Released)
ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 06, 2016) – Fire Control Technician 1st Class David Toone examines the ice in search of ice that can be melted down and used for potable water during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. ICEX 2016 is a five-week exercise designed to research, test, and evaluate operational capabilities in the region. ICEX 2016 allows the U.S. Navy to assess operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic Environment, and develop partnerships and collaborative efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Electronics Technician 2nd Class Nate Madlem/Released)

In addition to identifying strategic objectives, the Navy has been following a measured plan designed to improve our future capacity to conduct operations and training, to seek opportunities in science and technology, to make better use of facilities and equipment, to enhance maritime domain awareness, and to advance environmental observation and prediction. The Arctic Roadmap enhances the line of effort in our design to deepen the dialogue with research and development labs and academia.

As we execute our maritime Arctic strategy, we are especially determined to ensure focus on a particular objective: our national security interest in preserving the Freedoms of Navigation and Overflight and of other lawful uses of the sea in the Arctic. The Navy will be consistent in its global approach to maintaining peace and stability and promoting respect for international law. To support freedom of navigation, we have several options in the Arctic:  Navy submarines can and do conduct Freedom of Navigation Operations, either undersea or on the surface.  Additionally, Navy surface ships can conduct operations in open water during the summer melt season. Most importantly, we support the National Fleet Plan where Coast Guard cutters, as sovereign immune vessels, can challenge excessive claims through Freedom of Navigation Operations. Moreover, because Freedom of Navigation Operations support international law, they can be conducted by any allied navy, as is currently being done in the South China Sea.  Strategic international partnerships are the key to ensuring a peaceful Arctic. In accordance with our design, we are engaged in extensive security cooperation activities and other military-to-military forms of engagement to establish, shape, and maintain international relations and the partnerships necessary to meet security challenges and reduce the potential for friction.

We are also able to achieve our national maritime Arctic strategy by working in close collaboration with U.S. Coast Guard to address gaps in Arctic communications, maritime domain awareness, search and rescue, and environmental observation and forecasting capabilities in support of both current and future planning and operations. The Navy and Coast Guard collaborate and complement each other’s unique capabilities and authorities.

Specifically, the Coast Guard concentrates on safety and security, addressing such missions as Arctic fisheries protection, search and rescue, and environmental protection, while the Navy concentrates on defense missions. Because of our deliberate and extensive planning and interoperability, both services seamlessly support each other when called.

ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 15, 2016) An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, assigned to the 210th Rescue Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard, and two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters assigned to the 1-207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army Air National Guard, fly over the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hampton (SSN 757) during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Thompson/Released)
ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 15, 2016) An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, assigned to the 210th Rescue Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard, and two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters assigned to the 1-207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army Air National Guard, fly over the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hampton (SSN 757) during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Thompson/Released)

 

Central to our Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, the Navy also works closely with our geographic combatant commands. Within their geographic area of responsibility, U.S. European Command and U.S. Pacific Command are fostering collaborative working relationships with regional partners. U.S. Northern Command, which has responsibility for the Arctic and Alaska, is the U.S. Department of Defense advocate for Arctic capabilities. Northern Command recently updated its plans for the Arctic and analyzed future capability requirements for this challenging and evolving region.

ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 10, 2016) The aurora borealis appears over Ice Camp Sargo as the sun sets during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Electronics Technician 2nd Class Nate Madlem/Released)
ARCTIC CIRCLE (March 10, 2016) The aurora borealis appears over Ice Camp Sargo as the sun sets during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Electronics Technician 2nd Class Nate Madlem/Released)

We continue to train and operate routinely in the region as we monitor the changing environment, revisiting assessments and taking action as conditions change. Our design encourages us to be receptive to innovation and creativity and to the lessons of history. It may be possible that the process by which non-military Arctic issues are being successfully resolved has the potential to serve as a model to resolve issues of national security among countries that have an interest in Arctic maritime stability.

We believe a near-term conflict over Arctic resources is unlikely, given the fairly high level of cooperation and adherence to international legal norms observed and practiced by Arctic and non-Arctic nations. For now, the Navy’s security posture remains appropriate for the Arctic. We have significant undersea capabilities and deep operational experience with our submarine force that routinely operates in the Arctic Ocean under the ice.  The Navy recognizes the strategic importance of the Arctic region, the national security implications of the diminishing sea ice of the Arctic Ocean, and the importance of free and unfettered navigation in this ocean.  The Navy also recognizes that an ice-diminished Arctic remains a very difficult maritime operating environment; the climate is harsh, the distances are vast, the infrastructure is limited, and darkness dominates the winter months.

In conclusion, as sea ice diminishes and the Arctic Ocean opens to more maritime activity, the Navy may be called upon more frequently to support other federal agencies and we will work with our international partners to ensure a secure, stable, and most importantly, a peaceful region. There are challenges ahead, but through our design and its principles of partnerships, learning, strength and teamwork the Navy will be vital to the Arctic’s stable future.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/07/21/u-s-navys-partnerships-learning-strength-and-teamwork-vital-to-arctics-stable-future/ U.S. Navy