The arctic domain is getting hot, so to speak, as ‘great powers’ increasingly project power in the frozen north. With Russia increasingly active militarily in the warming Arctic and near Alaska, and even China extending its military reach in the frigid northern waters as a self-described ‘near Arctic power, U.S. and Canadian efforts to defend the North American Arctic take on critical importance.
As I wrote about in my piece for the US Naval Institute Proceedings magazine last year, the U.S. and Canada Must Cooperate to Defend the Arctic:
The United States and Canada have a history of joint defense of North America, having worked together since the 1950s in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). This proven model should also serve as the framework for working together to defend the Arctic.
And so it goes. After the Air Force released its first-ever Arctic Strategy last year, the U.S. and Canadian Royal Air Force just completed Exercise Amalgam Dart to quickly position aircraft and protect the northern airspace. Air Force Magazine reports:
A total of 27 aircraft and about 500 personnel trained together at multiple bases in Canada, Greenland, and the northern U.S. for a “multi-domain approach to Arctic security,” the Canadian NORAD region said in a statement.
Air Force Magazine added that while “NORAD declined to detail the specific scenarios involved in the exercise,” it was designed to “address emerging challenges and emerging capabilities.” It described the assets involved as:
USAF F-16, KC-10, KC-46, KC-135, C-130, and C-17 aircraft participated in the exercise. Canadian aircraft include CF-18, CP-130 patrol aircraft, CC-130 tactical airlift and search and rescue aircraft, CC-150T aerial refuelers, and CH-149 Cormorant helicopters. A NATO E-3 AWACS also participated.
Aircraft deployed to Thule Air Base, Greenland, for the exercise and then operations extended from there to the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska and Canada, and Eastern Canada down to the coast of Maine.
NORAD said in statement, according to Air Force Magazine:
Ultimately, we seek an Arctic region that is stable and free of conflict, where nations act responsibly in a spirit of trust and cooperation. During Exercise Amalgam Dart, NORAD worked collaboratively with not only commands like Canadian Joint Operations Command, but all stakeholders in the Arctic region, including NATO, Greenland, and Indigenous communities and towns, underlining existing relationships while extending our capabilities into the High Arctic.