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Melting in the Arctic: Preparing Now for Possibilities in the Future

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Technical Report

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Joint Forces Staff College Norfolk United States

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The Arctic region has traditionally been trapped by the coverage of seasonal ice, but by 2030 the area is predicted to become a new frontier for humanity. Mankind will undoubtedly bring with it all the varying levels of environmental impacts associated with increased human presence such as shipping, exploration, research, tourism, military patrols, and unfortunately the potential for conflict. So far, climate change, diplomacy, and economic factors have been the major driving factors in shaping this area of the world while regional cooperation and international law appear to be paving the way towards peace, security, and stability. Unfortunately authorities anticipate confrontation and conflict as states scramble and race for resources and control of sea lanes in theArctic, similar to situations taking place in other parts of the world. For example, diplomacy alone has not been sufficient in settling disputes in the South China Sea. As Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently stated, Many countries in the region are coming to the United States and asking us to do more with them so that we can keep the peace out here. The United States military will need to be ready to stand in a similar fashion off its northern Alaskan coast inorder to defend its sovereign territory. This thesis argues that the time has already arrived for the U.S. military to address the potential for military conflictin the Arctic region and steps need to be taken now to mitigate such threats.

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