Arctic Planning: DOD Expects to Play a Supporting Role to Other Federal Agencies and Has Efforts Under Way to Address Capability Needs and Update Plans

Government Accountability Office

What GAO Found
Recent strategic guidance on the Arctic issued by the administration and the Department of Defense (DOD) establish a supporting role for the department relative to other federal agencies, based on a low level of military threat expected in the region…

Decreasing seasonal sea ice in the Arctic has made some Arctic waters navigable for longer periods and, as a result, may contribute to new economic opportunities in commercial shipping, oil exploration, and tourism. This could eventually increase the need for a U.S. military and homeland security presence in the Arctic, particularly in the maritime environment.

House Report 113-446, which accompanied a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, included a provision that GAO review DOD’s Arctic capabilities.

This report discusses (1) the role of DOD in the Arctic based on recent strategic guidance and its assessment of the security environment in the region, (2) the actions taken by DOD to address near-term capability needs, and (3) the efforts DOD has under way to update plans for the Arctic and identify future capability needs.


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