The most important maritime choke point on the planet is the Strait of Hormuz, where oil flows out of the Middle East through six miles of shipping lanes between Oman and Iran. What if you were told that in 20 years, an unexpected choke point would capture our attention: the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia? The United States must make modest maritime and infrastructure investments now to ensure it maintains its status as guarantor of peace on the maritime commons of a new Arctic frontier. Our national strategic risk is that the infrastructure and manpower is stretched too thin to cover the current level of activity in the Arctic. The fear is that it will be overwhelmed and unable to respond as maritime traffic and resource extraction increase in the region. Beyond the tipping point when the United States is unable to respond, operational saturation will occur, resulting in loss of life and/or irreversible environmental damage.
When the Ice Melts
To avoid operational saturation at the top of the world, the U.S. Coast Guard must team with the U.S. Navy and follow the National Strategy for the Arctic Region, recently signed by the President.
By Commander Paul F. Campagna, U.S. Navy; Lieutenant Colonel Dave McNulty, U.S. Air Force; and Colonel Heath Roscoe, U.S. Army