One of today’s most complex emerging maritime challenges is Russia’s presence in the Arctic. Russia is vying to create a military and economic foothold in geographic proximity to the United States that rivals many other national security threats. The Coast Guard has made some significant efforts to address this challenge. For the first time in almost four decades it will soon begin construction of a new ice breaker to preserve what the Commandant has called our “national sovereign interests” in the Arctic. Although the Coast Guard’s 2019 “Arctic Strategic Outlook” acknowledges that Russia “dominates the Arctic geography and possesses the corresponding dominant surface capability and infrastructure,” it makes no reference to improving Russian language capabilities. This despite the fact that issues stemming from a Russian language barrier have already been reported by Coast Guard units.
The Coast Guard Needs Russian Linguists
By Petty Officer David W. Zenkel, U.S. Coast Guard