Murkowski Presses General Dunford on Russia Build-Up in Arctic

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today questioned General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for his views on Russia’s military intentions in the Arctic. The question came as he testified before the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, of which Senator Murkowski is a member, during a hearing on the Department of Defense’s FY18 budget.

Senator Murkowski noted that Alaskans are concerned by the military build-up by our neighbors to the east, and asked General Dunford if he continued to view Russia’s behavior as alarming and what he makes of the military activities in the Arctic.

He responded by saying:

“I think they’re trying to do two simple things. At the strategic level, they’re trying to undermine the credibility of our alliances and our ability to meet our alliance commitments. Secondly, when you look at their military capabilities whether it be in the Arctic or Europe, what they’re trying to do is prevent us from being able to move military power into the region or operate freely within the region.

When we look at their military posture – whether in the Arctic or Europe – their intent is to keep us from projecting power. I do see increasing concern by Arctic nations to work together to mitigate the effects of Russian capability, development, and behavior. I think the importance that we place in the Arctic is reflected in the fact the Department rewrote the strategy for the Arctic in 2013. Without turning to Secretary’s defense guidance that he’ll give us soon, I anticipate the Arctic will be a critical part of it.”

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Background: On March 16, President Trump’s administration released a proposed budget outline for Fiscal Year 2018, which included a $54 billion increase for defense. Congress now works through the appropriations process by considering the budget request and deciding which programs to fund and how much funding those programs should receive.