Arctic Sounder: Senators introduce legislation for Arctic security center

Arctic security is at the forefront of new legislation introduced by both Alaska senators.

"It is an evolving world out there," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, speaking in Washington, D.C., on Monday. "As we are seeing the impact from climate change, as we are seeing ice recede, as we are seeing waterways open up, as we are seeing greater access, as we are seeing greater threats, what are we doing to prepare?"

Murkowski was discussing legislation she introduced alongside fellow Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan to create a Department of Defense research hub focused on the circumpolar north.

"I think that it is very, very clear to us that the Department of Defense particularly is keying in on the challenges that we face in the Arctic. And with the growing prominence of the Arctic in global, geopolitical, and strategic affairs, now is the time to give the Department of Defense the tools as well as the abilities that it needs to foster the research and the dialogue that we think will be critical to our nation's security," she said.

The announcement came on the birthday of the late Sen. Ted Stevens, after whom the center would be named.

"He was certainly a visionary when it came to understanding the promise, but also the challenge of the Arctic itself and how we ensure that in this region, a region that is pretty remote and pretty isolated, but a region that is prepared and then with that preparation able to protect," she said.

It would be called the Ted Stevens Arctic Security Studies Center and would join five other security studies centers under the department's purview. Those cover Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, Near East-South Asia and the Northern Hemisphere, Murkowski said.

"What these centers aim to do is support defense strategy, objectives, and policy priorities through pretty unique academic forum as well as to foster strong international networks of security leaders," she explained.

She said it's critical that Alaska be recognized for its unique "geostrategic position" both in the U.S. and globally.

"The overarching goals of this Arctic security studies center is to find solutions for the greatest security challenges of the circumpolar Arctic region, to help promote greater understanding of the Arctic — we know we've got to do more there — as well as facilitate greater engagement and potential solutions for the many challenges that we know lie ahead," she said.

By:  Shady Grove Oliver
Source: Arctic Sounder

Related Issues: Arctic, Defense