ARCTIC: Guarding Canada’s Ice Comes at High Price

November 15, 2011 at 11:18 pm Leave a comment

Pricey Policy?

Guarding Canada’s Arctic territory comes with a big price tag, as much as $1 billion Canadian, according to a series of internal Defense Department documents.

Those documents, dating back to 2008, show the cost of getting fuel, ammunition, food and shelter to the High North might tally between $843 million (US $820.7 million) and $1 billion (US$973.5 million), according to the Canadian Press. The Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force are grappling with the challenges of standing on guard over the mineral rich land beneath the Arctic’s melting sea ice.

(Photo by Corporal Jax Kennedy, Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

The country’s top military commander, Gen. Walt Natynczyk has said it’s harder to sustain operations in the High Arctic than it is to operate in Afghanistan “because in the Arctic, it’s what you bring.”

And getting supplies to the sparsely populated, transportation-dependent North poses numerous logistical problems from transporting fuel to a deepwater port on Baffin Island – 750 kilometers (466 miles) inside the Arctic Circle – to a lack of airports that can accommodate large cargo planes like the C-17 or C-130.

The reports and other documents obtained by the CP through a freedom of information request indicate the Canadian military might have to turn to commercial contractors – and maybe even an exchange of services with the United States military – in order to keep itself supplied in the High North.

(Photo by Sgt Errol Morel, CFLAWC)

Since 2006 the Canadian government has been taking steps to assert its authority over now-frozen wastes that climate scientists say will become summertime sea lanes in the near future. Many countries, including the United States believe those shipping lanes constitute international waters. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party think Canadian “sovereignty over its Arctic territory “is not negotiable.”

Some critics say the world’s second-largest country – two-fifths of which is above the 60th parallel – may have over extended itself and its military capabilities trying to secure an area larger than Western Europe.

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Entry filed under: Arctic, Homeland Security, National Security and Defense, Skills and Training, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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