March 21, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will travel to the Arctic this weekend with several Members of Congress and U.S. defense officials where they will observe and participate in a Navy training exercise known as Ice Exercise (ICEX) to gain a deeper understanding of U.S. military operations in the region and the Arctic’s strategic value to the United States.
“Global warming is quickly and drastically changing the environment. And while stemming the tide of global warming is of critical importance, it is also necessary to prepare for changes in the Artic – particularly when it comes to our national security and economic interests,” Senator King said. “Participating in ICEX will give me the opportunity to see firsthand the work our Navy is doing in the Arctic and, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, it will equip me with the knowledge to make better decisions in Congress about our policy for the region.”
ICEX is a longstanding training exercise conducted by the Navy every three years with the mission of developing and honing submarine operational and warfighting capabilities within the challenging Arctic environment. During ICEX 2014, the Navy will assess submarine operational readiness; test combat, sonar, communications, and navigation systems; and obtain additional knowledge of the Artic environment through research incidental to their work.
As part of the trip, Sen. King will tour U.S. Navy Ice Camp NAUTILUS, a temporary ice camp constructed in the Arctic Ocean by the Navy’s permanent Arctic Submarine Laboratory, which supports the testing of submarine systems throughout ICEX. He will also board a Navy submarine and observe its operations as it undergoes training exercises in the Arctic Ocean.
The Arctic Ocean is of increasing strategic importance to the United States. Not only does it border several nations, including the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark, but it also serves as an important waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, particularly as the accelerating melting of Arctic ice creates the potential to open up global shipping routes, new energy markets, and other commercial interests.
In May 2013, President Obama released a National Strategy for the Arctic Region, which states that the United States has “broad and fundamental interests in the Arctic” and that the U.S. must advance “national security interests, pursue responsible stewardship, and strengthen international collaboration and cooperation, as we work to meet the challenges of rapid climate-driven environmental change” in the region. Consequently, the U.S. Navy Arctic Roadmap 2014-2030 requires that the Navy to be fully mission capable in Arctic waters. The Navy’s ICEX is critical to maintaining that capability and readiness.
During a Senate Armed Services hearing last week, Sen. King questioned top military officials about U.S. military policy for the Arctic and underscored the importance of the Navy remaining present and responsive in the region.