December 26, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), co-chair of the Senate Arctic Caucus and member of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and Energy & Natural Resources Committee, joined Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to introduce Arctic Naval Focus Act of 2019. The bill would direct the federal government to recognize the importance of the Arctic region to the United States’ national and economic security interests, and to put forward a strategy for the U.S. fleet’s ability to operate in the Arctic and respond to challenges.
“The Arctic is an emerging frontier for international commerce and military capabilities required to protect national interests, which creates new opportunities for the United States – and for potential adversaries,” said Senator King. “As the impacts of climate change continue to affect this vital region, the U.S. must be forward-thinking to establish and protect our leadership role in the Arctic, and Maine’s people and resources are a key component of this effort. As the old Latin phrase goes: ‘If you want peace, prepare for war.’ The Arctic is seen as a zone of international cooperation and we should aim to maintain this; to do so, we need a strategy on how to assert ourselves in a corner of globe that grows more important by the day, and this legislation is a much-needed step toward that goal.”
The Arctic Naval Focus Act of 2019 would:
· Codify a series of findings on the strategic importance of the Arctic.
· Declare that it is the policy of the U.S. to develop and deploy Naval capabilities to meet the unique and growing challenges in the Arctic.
· Require the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security to develop a detailed plan within one year for taking concrete steps to create an operational and strategic support system for Arctic Naval surface operations with set deadlines for implementation.
Senator King is an advocate for Maine’s interests in the North Atlantic and Arctic region, and has worked in Washington to advance Maine’s leadership in the High North. In September he invited Senator Sullivan on his monthly Inside Maine podcast to discuss U.S. military challenges and opportunities in the Arctic. In July, he spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center on the economic implications of increased activity in the Arctic. In May 2018, he joined University of New England students, faculty, researchers, and staff as well as leaders on North Atlantic and Arctic policy at the launch of the Institute for North Atlantic Studies of the University of New England (UNE NORTH). UNE NORTH is an initiative of the University of New England that aims to help the next generation of leaders further responsible stewardship and sustainable economic growth in the region.
In 2015, Senator King traveled to Iceland, where he participated in the Arctic Circle Assembly Plenary Session, speaking to the national security, climate change, economic issues that make the region a significant policy priority for the U.S. In October 2016, Senator King joined Maine people and leaders from around the globe to attend the Arctic Council conference at the University of Southern Maine’s Portland Campus. He also visited Greenland on a fact-finding mission that focused on examining the environmental and security implications of the warming Arctic climate and traveled to Iqaluit, Canada to help usher in the United States’ chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015.