Posts filed under ‘ARCTIC NATION’

FRIDAY FOTO (May 6, 2022)

STINGER STUDY.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tyler Thompson)

Marine Corps Lance Corporal Dylan Pennington, right, explains the functions of the FIM-92 Stinger missile system to Norwegian Army Sergeant Silje Skarsbakk during a bilateral training event in Setermoen, Norway on April 25, 2022.

The FIM-92 Stinger missile is a shoulder-fired MANPAD (man-portable air-defense system) that specializes in taking out helicopters. Stingers have been around since the 1980s. They were originally developed by General Dynamics and are now made by Raytheon Missile Systems. The Stinger can also target low-flying airplanes and drones.

Pennington is assigned to the the Aviation Combat Element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). MEUs are expeditionary quick reaction forces, deployed and ready for  immediate response to a crisis.

The 22nd MEU, embarked aboard the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group,  participated in a bilateral training event with the Norway’s Armed Forces in April.

The United States has sent more than 1,400 Stingers to Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24. . The Ukrainian military says it has shot down nearly 160 Russian aircraft, including 90 helicopters in that time. Unfortunately, the Defense Department, which is developing an updated anti-aircraft missile, hasn’t purchased a Stinger in about 18 years, say Raytheon officials. Some of components are no longer commercially available, and the company will have to redesign some of the missile’s electronics, Breaking Defense reported April 26.

May 5, 2022 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (MARCH 12, 2022)

A Flash of Green.

The northern lights glow behind a Patriot M903 launcher station during Exercise ARCTIC EDGE 2022 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, March 5, 2022. The Patriot system allows Soldiers to detect, analyze and defend against incoming air and missile threats.

U.S.Northern Command is hosting exercise Arctic Edge 2022, which is held every two years.

Participants include 1,000 U.S. military personnel, including units from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Special Operations Command.

Additionally, elements from the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Canadian Army are also participating.

The exercise aims is to provide realistic and effective training using training locations that are available throughout Alaska.

Arctic Edge 22 is linked to other service specific exercises, including the National Guard’s Arctic Eagle Patriot, the Army’s Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Capability Exercise and the Navy’s ICEX. They will take place concurrently or consecutively during the month of February and March.

March 13, 2022 at 12:04 am Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: U.S. Ice Breaker Circumnavigating North America; Canadian Coast Guard showing Royal Navy the Ropes in the Arctic

Ice Breaker Healy Heading for Home.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy navigates near Baffin Island, Canada on September 16, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Matt Masaschi)

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy is about a month away from completing its circumnavigation of North America. The aim of the mission is to strengthen allied partnerships along the way, while conducting Coast Guard missions and supporting scientific exploration to increase understanding of the changing Arctic environment.

Uniquely equipped to conduct scientific operations, Healy is also the premiere U.S. high-latitude research vessel. Healy is the only U.S. military surface vessel that routinely deploys to the ice-covered waters of the Arctic to provide access and secure national interests related to our maritime borders and natural resources.

After setting out from its homeport in Seattle on July 10, the 420-foot medium ice breaker sailed to the Gulf of Alaska, around the 49th state through the Bering and Chukchi seas to the Arctic Ocean where it patrolled before returning to Seward, Alaska in late August to pick up a team of international scientists to study sea ice and other conditions. Healy and its crew of 85 then retraced the cutter’s journey around Alaska to the Beaufort Sea, transited the Northwest Passage — now more accessible in summer as sea ice continues to decline — through Canadian waters to Baffin Bay, the Davis Strait and Nuuk, Greenland September 13.

Healy’s crew and  the science team deployed research equipment in Baffin Bay and off the coast of Greenland. After another stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Healy entered Boston Harbor October 14. The next day the Coast Guard held an Arctic discussion roundtable aboard the Healy.   Coast Guard Vice Admiral Steven Poulin, the Atlantic Area commander, along with the Coast Guard 1st District command, Rear Admiral Thomas Allan, and the ice breaker’s commander, Captain Kenneth Boda, were joined by more than 20 professors, students, and Arctic leaders from several U.S. universities.

The U.S. Coast Guard held an Arctic discussion roundtable aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Healy in Boston on Oct. 15, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lieutenant Commander Katie Blue)

On Prince of Wales Strait, a narrow stretch of water separating two islands in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Boda told the Seattle Times , stretches of shoreline had collapsed due to permafrost thaw. Boda said the crew was largely able to find open water rather than having to break ice. Healy is expected to return to Seattle around November 20 after taking the Panama Canal back to the Pacific Ocean.

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Canadian Coast Guard Trains UK Royal Navy

The United Kingdom’s Royal Navy is learning the cold facts about operating in the Arctic from shipmates in the Canadian Coast Guard, who have a great deal of cold weather experience, SEAPOWER reports.

British sailors are training with Canadians on how to navigate through icy waters and how to break ice where necessary. At the same time, Canadian Coast Guard personnel will have operational training opportunities with the Royal Navy and gain experience with crewless technology.

An agreement to formalize the arrangement was signed between the two NATO nations at the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) headquarters in Ottawa on October 8.

U.S., British and Canadian flags fly over Ice Camp Seadragon during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2020. ICEX 2020 is a biennial submarine exercise which promotes interoperability between allies and partners to maintain operational readiness and regional stability, while improving capabilities to operate in the Arctic environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael B. Zingaro)

“The sharing of the Canadian Coast Guard’s wide experience and expertise will mean British sailors are better equipped when sailing to the frozen region,” the Royal Navy said in a press statement.

Canadian Coast Guard icebreaking vessels, from hovercraft to heavy and light icebreaking and long-endurance ships, keep Canadian ports open year-round, freeing ice-bound vessels, escorting ships through ice-covered waters and maintaining a constant presence the High North during the navigable season.

The Royal Navy has shown a renewed interest in the Arctic region in recent years because of its key strategic importance to the security of the U.K.

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Nuclear submarine USS Toledo in the Arctic Ocean 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by MC1 Michael B. Zingaro)

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military and environmental developments in the Far North. The 2013 U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region described the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. Since that strategy was developed, mineral riches beneath the Arctic Sea – which is bordered by six nations, Canada, Denmark (which controls Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Russia and the United States — have prompted concerns about a “Cold Rush” of industries, corporations, speculators and governments hoping to take advantage of resources once thought inaccessible.

October 24, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: B-2 Bombers in Iceland: Chinese Warships Near Alaska; MQ-9 tested Over Canadian Arctic

Stealth Bombers.

U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bombers have ended a two-and-a-half-weeks deployment in Iceland, operating from Keflavik Air Base, where they trained with U.S., British and Norwegian fighter jets. The first-of-its-kind deployment reflects the U.S. military’s increased focus on the High North, according to Business Insider.

Three B-2s from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri arrived at Keflavik on August 23 for a Bomber Task Force deployment. For the bombers that has meant more short-term deployments overseas or non-stop flights to and from distant regions for training.

Three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, assigned to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, arrive at Keflavik Air Base, Iceland, August 23, 2021. The stealth bombers took part in their first ever forward operation out of Iceland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Hommel)

The B-2s trained with U.S. and British fighter jets over the North Sea in late August and early September. On September 8 they trained with Norwegian F-35s over the North Sea in an “advanced mission designed to test escort procedures, stand-off weapon employment and the suppression and destruction of air defenses,” according to the Air Force.

The bombers returned to Missouri on September 11, after conducting more than a dozen multinational missions.

In a September 20 statement, the Air Force said Keflavik Air Base had served as a new launch point for short-notice bomber task force missions to Europe.

In 2019, the B-2 completed a stop-and-go “hot pit” refueling at Keflavik, but “this is the first time the B-2 has operated continuously from Iceland,” Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Howard, the commander of the 110th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, said in a statement.

The U.S. military has invested millions of dollars to improve infrastructure at Keflavik, which was prominent in allied operations during the Cold War but faded in importance in subsequent years, according to the Stars and Stripes website.

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USCG Encounters Chinese Warships Near Alaska.

The People’s Republic of China is located more than a thousand miles from the Arctic but Beijing like to style itself a “Near Arctic Nation.”

Just how seriously China takes its interests at the top of the world came into focus in August w hen two U.S. Coast Guard cutters observed four ships from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) operating as close as 46 miles off the Aleutian Island coast.

While the PLAN ships were within the U.S. exclusive economic zone, they followed international laws and norms and at no point entered U.S. territorial waters, according to SEAPOWER. The PLAN task force included a guided-missile cruiser, a guided-missile destroyer, a general intelligence vessel, and an auxiliary vessel. The Chinese vessels conducted military and surveillance operations during their deployment to the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean.

The encounter came during a deployment of the national security cutters, Bertholf and Kimball, to the Bering Sea and the Arctic region.

“Security in the Bering Sea and the Arctic is homeland security,” said Vice Admiral Michael McAllister, commander Coast Guard Pacific Area. “The U.S. Coast Guard is continuously present in this important region to uphold American interests and protect U.S. economic prosperity.”

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Big Drone Over Canada.

In a flight that originated from its Flight Test and Training Center (FTTC) near Grand Forks, North Dakota, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) flew a company-owned MQ-9A “Big Wing” configured unmanned aircraft system north through Canadian airspace past the 78th parallel, the company said September 10.

Long endurance drones like the MQ-9 have been unable to operate at extreme northern (and southern) latitudes, because many legacy SATCOM datalinks can become less reliable above the Arctic (or below the Antarctic) Circle – approximately 66 degrees north, SEAPOWER reported.

At those latitudes, the low-look angle to geostationary Ku-band satellites begins to compromise the link. GA-ASI has demonstrated a new capability for effective ISR operations by performing a loiter at 78.31° North, using Inmarsat’s L-band Airborne ISR Service (LAISR).

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ MQ-9A “Big Wing” Unmanned Aerial System flew in the hostile climate of the Canadian Arctic. (General Atomics photo)

The flight over Haig-Thomas Island, in the Canadian Arctic, demonstrated the UAS’s flexibility by operating at very high latitudes. The flight, which took off on Sept. 7 and returned to the FTTC on Sept. 8, was conducted with cooperation from the Federal Aviation Administration, Transport Canada and Nav Canada.

Covering 4,550 miles in 25.5 hours, it was one of the longest-range flights ever flown by a company MQ-9. The flight was performed under an FAA Special Airworthiness Certificate and a Transport Canada Special Flight Operations Certificate.

As global warming melts Arctic Ocean ice pack, leaving more open water for transit by Chinese and Russian ships, Washington is looking for new ways to keep an eye on the frigid region. One possibility: unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) that keep watch from above, the Flight Global website observed.

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Nuclear submatine USS Toledo (SSN-769) in the Arctic Ocean 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by MC1 Michael B. Zingaro)

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military and environmental developments in the Far North. The 2013 U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region described the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. “Those interests include national security protecting the environment, responsibly managing resources, considering the needs of indigenous communities, support for scientific research, and strengthening international cooperation.”

September 23, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: Operation Nanook; U.S. Coast Guard Patrol; Arctic Fighter Jet Drill

UPDATE: Sept. 3, 2021

Operation Nanook.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Richard Snyder takes part in the Canadian military’s Operation Nanook in the Labrador Sea on August 13, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Richard Snyder)

Two U.S. Coast Guard cutters, ranged far from home recently to participate in the annual Canadian military exercise in the Arctic, Operation Nanook 21.

The 154-foot Fast Response Cutter (FRC) Richard Snyder, and the 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutter Escanaba worked alongside two Royal Canadian Navy vessels, HMCS (Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship) Harry Dewolf and HMCS Goose Bay, to enhance their abilities to respond to safety and security issues in the High North through air and maritime presence activities as well as maritime domain defense and security exercises.

The Richard Snyder, with a crew of about 24, was the first Sentinel-class FRC deployed to the region. Based in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, the cutter primarily focuses on living marine resources and search and rescue operations, said its skipper, Lieutenant Commander Gregory Bredariol. “The FRC has fared exceedingly well in the Arctic. Our major concerns were fuel and food, and there have been no issues with either as the cutter continues to steam through the operational area and complete all training and interactions with stellar results,” he added.

Operation NANOOK, which runs this year through September 12, is the Canadian Armed Forces’ signature northern operation. It comprises a series of comprehensive, joint, interagency, and multinational activities designed to exercise the defense of Canada and security in the Arctic region. In 2021 it comprised three distinct operations:

Op NANOOK-TUUGAALIK (August 3-10) A maritime defense domain and security exercise off the coast of Labrador and Baffin Island, designed to assist the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in building capacity in Canada’s northern regions.

Op NANOOK-TATIGIIT (August 10-15) An interagency territorial exercise engaging other Canadian government departments and agencies in a response to a simulated major incident and serach and rescue mission in the North.

Op NANOOK-NUNAKPUT: (August 9 – September 12) A series of presence activities along the Northwest Passage to demonstrate Canada’s ability to deploy forces in the Arctic as well as build the CAF’s domain awareness of the region.

The two U.S. Coast Guard cutters participated in the first two operations.  “The joint effort during Tuugaalik and Tatigiit included multi-ship small boat training, formation steaming, hailing and signals exercises, and more,” said Commander Ben Spector, skipper of Escanaba.. “Weather, especially in the Arctic, is a genuine consideration, and increasing sea state and fog tested us,” he said, adding the Coast Guard “remains committed to conducting operations and combined maritime exercises throughout the Atlantic and the Arctic region.”

Operation Nanook is the third of four major deployments of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Atlantic Arctic Season. In June, the tall ship Eagle visited Iceland, where Vice Admiral Steven Poulin, the Atlantic Area commander, hosted Icelandic officials for Arctic discussions. Also, in June, the cutter Maple participated in the Danish Joint Arctic Command’s annual exercise, Ex Argus, in Southern Greenland. Later this fall, the medium ice breaker Healy will make stops along the U.S. East Coast after transiting the Northwest Passage on its circumnavigation of North America.

While the Richard Snyder heads back to North Carolina, the Boston-based Escanaba, with a crew of about 100, is next slated to participate in Frontier Sentinel, an annual exercise of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and Royal Canadian Navy.

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Patrolling with the Russians.

Two other U.S. Coast cutters, one very far from home, spent the summer patrolling the Bering and Chukchi Seas off the Coast of Alaska, with Canadian — and Russian counterparts.

In late July, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Midgett, one of the service’s National Security Cutters, conducted combined operations and training with the Canadian coast guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier in the Chukchi Sea, and a joint patrol of the U.S.-Russia maritime boundary north of the Diomede Islands with the Russian Border Guard vessel Kamchatka. Just 3.8 kilometers (2.4 miles) separate Big Diomede Island (Russian territory) and Little Diomede Island (part of Alaska), according to NASA.

Midgett is the Coast Guard’s eighth National Security Cutter and is homeported in Honolulu. Featuring advanced command-and-control capabilities, national security cutters are the flagship of the Coast Guard’s fleet, deploying globally to confront national security threats, strengthen maritime governance, and promote economic prosperity.

Midgett also did a joint transit of the Bering Strait with the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, one of the service’s two operational polar icebreakers. Air crews from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak deployed to Kotzebue, Alaska in an HC-130J Hercules aircraft, an extended-range, search and rescue airplane, to support both cutter operations, according to SEAPOWER magazine.

In addition to being a medium polar ice breaker, Healy is the only U.S. military surface vessel that routinely deploys to the ice-covered waters of the Arctic to provide access and secure national interests related to our maritime borders and natural resources.

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Nordic Fighter Jets over Lapland.

Fighter jets from the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian Air Forces began taking to the skies August 30 over Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region, for the Arctic Fighter Meet 21 (AFM 21) live air exercise.

Lapland Air Command will host the AFM 21 exercise at Finland’s Rovaniemi Air Base. The Finnish Air Force will take part in the exercise with F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters and Hawk jet trainers. The Royal Norwegian Air Force will participate with F-16 Fighting Falcons and the Swedish Air Force with JAS 39 Gripen C/D fighters, according to the Finnish Air Force.

Flight operations of the exercise will take place in Finnish airspace in the training areas used by Lapland Air Command from Monday August 30 to Friday September 3.

Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian aircraft in close formation (Photo Finnish Air Force) CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE.

The objective of the annual Arctic Fighter Meet exercises is to fly air combat training with different types of fighters, and to familiarize the youngest fighter pilots with international exercises, according to the Finns.

However, the Barents Observer notes the air exercise will take place just two weeks before Russian armed forces launch their large-scale Zapad-21 (West 21) exercise. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, this exercise is being closely monitored following Russia’s recent mobilization of an estimated 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s border with Russia and within Crimea (which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014). Russia’s military buildup in its Arctic borderlands has raised concerns for United States and other NATO nations in the Arctic (Canada, Norway and Denmark, which controls Greenland). Baltic and Nordic nations have been rattled by Russia’s antagonistic behavior since it seized Crimea. Some have reinstituted the draft or increased their defense budgets. There were numerous reports of Russia probing Nordic defenses, from an underwater vehicle  entering Swedish waters to Russian bomber flights violating Swedish and Finnish airspace.

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ENVIRONMENT: UPDATE Sept. 3, 2021

U.S. Judge’s Ruling Upsets New Alaska Oil Project 

A federal judge reversed on August 18, the U.S. government’s approval of ConocoPhillips’ planned $6 billion Willow oil development in Alaska, citing problems with its environmental analysis, according to Reuters.

The ruling is a fresh blow to a massive drilling project that Alaskan officials hoped would help offset oil production declines in the state. A ConocoPhillips spokesperson said the company would review the decision and evaluate its options for the project. (Hat Tip to High North News.)

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Coast Guard medium ice breaker Healy (U.S. Coast Guard photo)ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military and environmental developments in the Far North. The 2013 U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region described the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. “Those interests include national security protecting the environment, responsibly managing resources, considering the needs of indigenous communities, support for scientific research, and strengthening international cooperation.”

September 2, 2021 at 11:55 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Happy Birthday U.S. Coast Guard

231 Years Young.

U.S. Coast Guard imagery

In case you missed it, today (August 4) is the official birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The history of the Coast Guard goes back to the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, which was founded on Aug. 4, 1790, as part of the Department of the Treasury, under Alexander Hamilton. The Revenue Cutter Service and the Life-Saving Service were merged to form the Coast Guard on Jan. 28, 1915. In 1939 the Lighthouse Service was merged into the Coast Guard.

Since then, the Coast Guard has been handed many assignments: From intercepting intruder aircraft over the National Capital Region, preserving marine wildlife, maritime search and rescue, enforcing maritime law in U.S. waters and intercepting smugglers of drugs and people.

In all the Coast Guard has eleven separate missions.

Praise came from in from points as diverse as President Joe Biden to defense and homeland security contractors to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Your 4GWAR editor was at National Harbor, Maryland, this week covering the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space expo, where they celebrated the Coast Guard birthday with some pomp.

At least one exhibitor at Sea-Air-Space, Peraton, took matters into to their own hands –shovels, actually with a huge indoor sand sculpture.

Sand sculpture honoring U.S. Coast Guard’s 231st birthday at Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space expo Aug. 2-4 at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo copyright by John M. Doyle)

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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress, or parade, uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York in the photo at left.

August 4, 2021 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: Dynamic Mongoose; Russian Military Drills; Canadian Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel

Dynamic Mongoose Anti-Submarine Exercise.

Sailors and airmen from seven NATO nations (Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States) are participating in NATO’s anti-submarine warfare exercise Dynamic Mongoose off the coast of Norway.

The exercise, which began June 28 and runs until July 9, includes two submarines, six surface ships and eight maritime patrol aircraft.

Dynamic Mongoose is an exercise held in the High North every summer. It is hosted alternately by Norway and Iceland. Dynamic Mongoose provides the opportunity for personnel from participating nations to engage in realistic maritime training to build experience, teamwork and knowledge that strengthens interoperability, according to MARCOM (Allied Maritime Command), the central command of all NATO maritime forces .

During the exercise submarines will take turns hunting and being hunted, closely coordinating their efforts with the air and surface participants. Airbases in the UK, Iceland and Norway are also involved.

Aviation units from Canada, Germany, the U.K., Norway, the U.S. and the Netherlands are participating. Rotary winged aircraft will operate from the ships, and land-based maritime patrol aircraft will operate from Lossiemouth, U.K., Keflavik, Iceland, and Andoya, Norway, according to Seapower magazine.

Briefing reporters on the exercise June 28, French Vice Admiral Didier Piaton, the MARCOM deputy commander was asked if the exercise was an attempt to send a message to Russia. Piaton said Dynamic Mongoose — like all NATO exercises — is conducted in a transparent and unprovocative manner with a declared defensive posture. “NATO’s daily mission is deterrence. We’re here to train our crews and make sure our deterrence is credible,” he said, Seapower reported.

Chief of the Royal Norwegian Navy, Rear Admiral Rune Andersen noted the annual exercise has been taking place for many years, and is occurring within Norway’s EEZ. “It’s quite far from Russia, actually,” he said.

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Russian Arctic Military Drills.

Meanwhile, Russia says it will conduct strategic military drills in the Arctic this autumn.

Russia’s new Trefoil Military Base on Franz Josef Land a Russian archipelago in the Arctic sea. (Photo copyright Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation via Wikipedia)

Russia’s Northern Fleet command announced the “strategic military exercise” on June 1 to check the “readiness of the forces and troops” serving in and around the Arctic, according to Radio Free Europe/RadioLiberty.

Northern Fleet command added that the exercises will also “ensure the safety” of the Northern Sea Route. The growing accessibility of natural resources and navigation routes in the Arctic as climate change makes it more accessible has attracted global competition. Russia has invested heavily to develop the route, which cuts the journey to Asian ports by 15 days compared with using the traditional Suez Canal route.

As Moscow seeks to assert its influence in the Arctic, military disputes have intensified in recent years, with both Russian and NATO forces carrying out maneuvers to display their ambitions.

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Canadian Arctic Patrol Vessel.

On June 26 Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Harry DeWolf, the Royal Canadian Navy’s lead ship in its class of Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels, was commissioned in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

HMCS Harry Dewolf sails under the Confederation Bridge between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick on November 25, 2020.
(Photo by Corporal David Veldman, Canadian Armed Forces)

The Harry DeWolf is the first ship completed as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy and was built at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard. The ship is named after Vice Adm. Harry DeWolf, a former head of the Royal Canadian Navy. This is the first time a class of ships will be named after a prominent Canadian navy figure in the RCN’s 108-year history, according to Seapower magazine.

The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) will significantly enhance the Canadian Armed Forces capabilities and presence in the Arctic, better enabling the Navy to assert and uphold Arctic sovereignty. The AOPS will also augment Canada’s presence offshore, and will be capable of conducting a wide variety of operations abroad.

The Harry DeWolf will help to assert Canadian sovereignty in Arctic and coastal Canadian waters in addition to supporting international operations as required. It will deploy for its first mission in August.

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Nuclear submatine USS Toledo (SSN-769) in the Arctic Ocean 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by MC1 Michael B. Zingaro)

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military and environmental developments in the Far North. The 2013 U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region described the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. “Those interests include national security protecting the environment, responsibly managing resources, considering the needs of indigenous communities, support for scientific research, and strengthening international cooperation

July 1, 2021 at 11:36 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (June 19, 2021)

Eagle Has Landed.

(Photo courtesy U.S. Embassy Reykjavik, Kristjan Petersson) Please click on the photo to enlarge the image.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle — “America’s Tall Ship” — arrives in Reykjavik, Iceland on June 9, 2021.

The Eagle is a three-masted sailing barque and the only active (operational) commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. maritime services. And here’s something for you Master and Commander fans, the Eagle is an actual war prize, taken from the Nazis.

The ship was built in 1936 by the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and commissioned as Horst Wessel. (Can you believe it?) Four identical sister ships were also built. Originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy, the ship was taken by the United States as a war prize after World War II. In 1946, a U.S. Coast Guard crew – aided by the German crew still on board – sailed the tall ship from Bremerhaven to its new homeport in New London, Connecticut.

Today, a permanent crew of eight assigned officers and 50 assigned enlisted personnel maintain the ship year round. They provide a strong base of knowledge and seamanship for the training of up to 150 cadets, or officer candidates, at a time.

Eagle is currently conducting summer U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet training in at-sea leadership and professional development. Their first port call was Portugal in late May. Since 1946, Eagle has been giving future officers the opportunity to put into practice the navigation, engineering, and other professional theory they have previously learned in the classroom.

For more on Eagle — including photosclick here and here.

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For regular 4GWAR Blog visitors who expected to see a pretty picture or an interesting one with a story behind it in yesterday’s FRIDAY FOTO/SHAKO posting, thanks for your patience. We hope this FOTO fits the bill.

June 19, 2021 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: Pentagon Creates Arctic Regional Center

New Arctic Regional Center.

The U.S. Defense Department is establishing a new Defense Regional Center — the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies. The center will bring increased cooperation on the unique challenges and security concerns related to the Arctic region, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced June 9.

Curious polar bears approach the bow section of the USS Honolulu after the submarine surfaced in the Arctic Circle, 280-miles from the North Pole.

The center will support the U.S. Interim National Security Strategic Guidance to work with like-minded partners and across the government “to pool our collective strength and advance shared interests,” Austin said in a press release. “It will address the need for U.S. engagement and international cooperation to strengthen the rules-based order in the region and tackle shared challenges such as climate change.”

The Ted Stevens Center will provide a new place to collaborate with U.S. allies and partners to advance shared interests for a peaceful and prosperous Arctic. Where the center will be located — probably in Alaska — has yet to be determined.

Defense Department Regional Centers are international academic venues for multilateral research, communication, and training — with the goal of building strong, sustainable international networks of security leaders. Three of the five existing regional centers are located in Washington, D.C. The other two are located in Honolulu, Hawaii and Garmisch, Germany.

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New Skipper for Alaska Coast Guard Cutter

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley conducted a change of command ceremony May 19 in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley makes its way to homeport in Kodiak, Alaska, on February 8, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Honings)

Captain Benjamin Golightly transferred command of the Alex Haley, a 282-foot medium endurance cutter, to Commander Brian Whisler. Rear Admiral Peter Gautier, the deputy commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, presided over the ceremony.

Whistler, who will serve as Alex Haley’s 14th commanding officer, is responsible for the cutter’s operations throughout the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, which includes protection of life and property, enforcement of federal fisheries regulations, preservation of living marine resources, and promotion of national security in the high latitude region.

June 10, 2021 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: Exercise Northern Edge, Monitoring Russian Activities in the High North.

DEFENSE

Exercise Northern Edge

An F-15EX fighter jet from the 53d Wing takes off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska in support of joint training exercise Northern Edge 2021.  (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt Savanah Bray)

Approximately 15,000 U.S. service members recently concluded a joint training exercise hosted by U.S. Pacific Air Forces between May 3-14, 2021.

The exercise took place on and above the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the Gulf of Alaska, and temporary maritime activities area. NE21 is one in a series of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command exercises designed to sharpen Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps joint force skills.

Various units practiced tactics, techniques, and procedures; to improve command, control and communication relationships; and to develop cooperative plans and programs.

Northern Edge provided high-end, realistic war fighter training to develop and improve joint interoperability. It also enhanced the combat readiness of participating forces.

The 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, in Florida, conducted operational tests of the F-15EX fighter jet, which features upgraded computing, sensors and weapons. Northern Edge will be the “first look at large force integration” for the new jet, including with fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters, the Air Force said.

More than 25 units, almost 200 aircraft and five naval ships — including the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt — participated in Northern Edge 2019.

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transits the Gulf of Alaska, May 7, 2021, during Exercise Northern Edge 2021 (NE21). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brandon Richardson)

Navy, Air Force and Marine aircraft executed flight missions during NE21 demonstrating seamless, joint combat capabilities. The Roosevelt conducted more than 300 aircraft launches and traps {arrested landings), and embarked squadrons completed more than 830 flight hours during NE21. The Marine Wing Support Detachment, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced), established a forward arming and refueling point at Cold Bay — identified as an advanced naval base — to provide around 85,000 pounds of fuel to multiple joint aircraft.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) ashore from the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) served as the lead element at Cold Bay. The Makin Island ARG executed various air and amphibious operations from amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), and amphibious transport docks USS San Diego (LPD 22) and USS Somerset (LPD 25) while maneuvering over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.

Soldiers wrap up a joint forcible entry operation during Northern Edge at Fort Greely, Alaska, on May 11, 2021. The exercise is designed to improve joint combat readiness.  (U.S. Army photo by Benjamin Wilson)

Army units participating in Northern Edge included the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) and 3rd Expeditionary Air and Space Task Force from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

The 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, conduct a Joint Forcible Entry Operation into Allen Army Airfield during exercise Northern Edge 21. Soldiers from the 17th Field Artillery Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state also joined the drills.

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Bear Watching

The Air Force general heading U.S. European Command says more Navy destroyers and Air Force strike fighters are what he needs to monitor — and deter — Russia’s aggressive behavior from the Arctic to the Black Sea, your 4GWAR editor wrote for Seapower magazine.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook approaches the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Tide-class replenishment tanker Tidesurge for refueling at sea, Octobeer 18, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Damon Grosvenor)

“I see a concerted effort on behalf of Russia’s maritime forces in the Baltic, in the Barents and Black seas,” General Tod Walters told a Congressional committee April 15 during a hearing on national security challenges and U.S. military activities in Europe.

Improving overall strategic indications and warnings (I&W), as well as command and control (C2), “starts with two destroyers to improve our ability to see undersea and it also culminates with F-35s, Wolters said , referring to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter.

There are four destroyers already based in Rota, Spain, which Wolters described as “the workhorses of deterrence,” projecting U.S. presence into the Mediterranean and Black seas and then back out again and up to the Arctic. Two more, also to be based in Rota, are required because of a consistent increase in Russian undersea activity in the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom gap. The historic maritime chokepoint in the 20th century is an access lane to the Atlantic Ocean for Arctic-based Russian subs. “The destroyers’ participation in undersea warfare, C2 and I&W is absolutely, positively critical,” Wolters said.

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Marines’ Arctic Mitten Search

The U.S. Marine Corps is looking for new extreme cold weather gear for combat units training to fight in subzero Arctic conditions.

Starting in late February, according to Military,com, Marine Corps Systems Command began looking at the commercial cold weather gear market for new trigger finger mittens, base-layer long underwear and a hat that sounds like a modern version of the beloved GI pile cap, according to three request-for-information solicitations.

A Marine with Marine Rotational Force Europe 21.1 (MRF-E), Marine Forces Europe and Africa, communicates with Leathernecks down range during Exercise Arctic Littoral Strike in Blåtind, Norway, March 30, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal  Patrick King)

The Marines want ideas on a new USMC Trigger Finger Mitten System that will replace the current Extreme Cold Weather Mitten Shell & Liner, according to a March 3 solicitation. Trigger finger mittens offer the warmth of a mitten while featuring a separate trigger finger so combat troops can still fire their weapons.

“The trigger finger design shall enable the wearer to move their first finger independently from the rest of the hand, but if needed move their first finger into the larger finger compartment to warm up as needed,” according to the solicitation, Military.com noted.

So far, all three cold weather items are slated to come in the color known as “coyote brown.”

 

 

*** *** ***

Nuclear submatine USS Toledo (SSN-769) in the Arctic Ocean 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by MC1 Michael B. Zingaro)

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military and environmental developments in the Far North. The 2013 U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region described the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. “Those interests include national security protecting the environment, responsibly managing resources, considering the needs of indigenous communities, support for scientific research, and strengthening international cooperation

 

 

May 16, 2021 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

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