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Army releases Arctic strategy focused on Russia, climate change

U.S. Army paratroopers descend over Malemute drop zone while conducting airborne and live fire training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in 2016. Photo by Alejandro Pena/U.S. Air Force
U.S. Army paratroopers descend over Malemute drop zone while conducting airborne and live fire training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in 2016. Photo by Alejandro Pena/U.S. Air Force | License Photo

March 16 (UPI) -- The Army plans to begin training and equipping combat brigades to serve in the Arctic region, according to a strategy the service released Tuesday.

The branch's arctic strategy, called "Regaining Arctic Dominance," includes plans to establish headquarters with combat brigades specially trained and equipped to increase cold-weather dominance, as well as to improve individual and collective training of forces to operate in the region.

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The plan also says the Army will work to improve the quality of life for soldiers, civilians and families who live and work in installations in the Arctic region.

"The Arctic is an opportunity to rapidly employ the speed, range and convergence of cutting-edge technologies being developed for Multi-Domain Operations to strengthen our deterrence capabilities in the region," Gen. James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army, said in a press release announcing the strategy's release.

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The 54-page strategy notes complex geopolitical relationships in the region, including Russia's recent history of maritime claims in the Northern Sea Route.

But the authors also note climate change as a factor that will make it more challenging to plan for the near future.

"Extreme temperatures, long periods of darkness and extended daylight, high-latitudes, seasonal challenging and changing terrain, and rapidly changing weather patterns define Arctic conditions," the strategy says.

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"The impacts of increasingly frequent and intense winter storms increase risk, and near-term variability in the physical environment exposes military forces and capabilities to unpredictable levels of risk," it says.

The Army's release of the strategy follows the release of similar documents by other military branches -- and strategy announcement from the military as a whole.

Earlier this year, the Navy and Marine Corps released its own Arctic strategy saying the United States needs to be more aggressive in the region due to threats from Russia and China and increased navigability due to climate change.

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Last July, the Air Force released a strategy focused on increasing vigilance in the region, following the release of a similar document by the Coast Guard in April 2019.

The Department of Defense was required to provide Arctic strategy reports to Congress by defense spending bills for fiscal years in 2016 and 2019, with the 2019 report emphasizing both Russia and China as adversaries with increased presence in the region.

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