JUST IN: Air Force Unveils Arctic Strategy to Compete with Russia, China

July 22, 2020

National Defense

The Department of the Air Force has a new strategy aimed at bolstering its forces and investments in the Arctic region to counter threats from Russia and China.

Activity in the region has been increasing in recent years, with melting sea ice opening up passageways for military assets and other vessels, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said July 21 as the strategy was being rolled out.

“Historically, the Arctic — like space — was characterized as a predominantly peaceful domain,” she said during a webinar hosted by the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. “This is changing with expanded maritime access, newly discovered resources and competing sovereign interests.”

Russia and China, both identified as great power competitors by the 2018 National Defense Strategy, are both jockeying for influence in the region, she noted. No other country has a larger permanent military presence above the Arctic Circle than Russia. Recent Russian investments in the area include a network of offensive air assets and coastal missile systems, Barrett said.

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