Arctic Security Review - Vol. I: Iss. 3 (2022 Week 15)
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The purpose of The Arctic Security Review (ARS) is to help fulfil the mission of O.S.I.R.I.S. Media Productions, LLC—to Foster and Promote Global Security, Civil Society, and Individual Sovereignty throughout the world—by providing a free, weekly, and publicly-available academic publication showcasing all military activity in the Arctic Region. Since modern military activity in the Arctic Region may qualify for a “Cold War” status, ARS seeks to provide global decision-makers with easily accessible and transparent weekly intelligence reports on Arctic Security. This Review relies exclusively on OSINT.
Executive Summary—High Level
During the fifteenth (15th) week of 2022, OSIRIS has observed military activity in 3 out of 5 reporting zones: US, Canada, and GIUK. This reporting period did not cover Scandinavian or Russian High North military movements. Northern Viking 2022 (NV22) concluded in Iceland and unspecified regions of the GIUK gap. NV22 was a US-Icelandic bilateral exercise open to NATO participants. Two Alaskan bases completed their stock of F-35A fighters and BLU-111 unguided bomb munitions for “operational and training activity.” Canadian leadership continues debate on how best to militarize its High North flank with the new federal defense-spending budget and limitations.
The Arctic Security Review’s Five AORs
The Arctic Security Review (ASR) is divided into five Areas of Responsibility (AORs) (see Figure 1 for zoning correlations)—the United States Zone (military activity in Alaska & all contiguous seas), the Canadian Zone (military activity in N.W. Territories, Nunavut & Yukon), the GIUK Zone (military activity between Greenland, Iceland & the United Kingdom), the Nordic Zone (military activity in Norway, Finland & Sweden), and the Russian Federation Zone (military activity from the Finnish Border to the Bering Sea). NATO Arctic activity is often reported under a separate category: “NATO Movements.”
Executive Summary—Detailed Overview
The United States Zone: Activity in Alaska & All Contiguous Seas
· 15 April: USAF Completes Its Eielson AFB F-35A Lightning II Fleet, Making the Arctic Base “Premier, Advanced Airpower Projection Location”
· 12 April: Alaska’s JBER Receives Largest Shipment of Munitions in History
The Canadian Zone: Activity in the N.W. Territories, Nunavut, Yukon & More
· 10 Apr – 16 Apr: Divided Opinions on Proper Arctic Defense Strategy in Canada Potentially Influence Future High North Militarization Activity
The GUIK Zone: Activity Between Greenland, Iceland & the UK
· 10-14 April: Joint-Defense Exercise “Northern Viking 2022” Concludes in Iceland, Reportedly Reinforcing the Arctic Nation’s Domestic Security Posturing
NATO Movements: Alliance Military Activity Anywhere within the Arctic
· 3-9 April: Week One of NATO’s “Northern Viking 2022” Concludes in Iceland, Focused on the Territorial Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) Gap
Week 15—OSINT BLUFs on All Arctic Zones
The United States Zone
(Activity in Alaska & All Contiguous Seas)
15 April: USAF Completes Its Eielson AFB F-35A Lightning II Fleet, Making the Arctic Base “Premier, Advanced Airpower Projection Location”
Alaska’s Eielson Air Force Base (EAFB) received its final shipment of F-35A Lighting II fighters, completing a two-year buildup of a total of 54 permanently assigned fifth-generation combat aircraft for the 354th Fighter Wing. Col. David Berkland, the wing’s commander, stated in an interview the F-35As will “continuously” train together with F-22 Raptors from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC), now “the best training field to advance high-end airpower operations.” Berkland noted that EAFB was able to complete its Lightning II fleet build-up “in spite of the global pandemic and extreme Arctic environment. Today also marks Eielson as a premier, advanced airpower projection location.”
12 April: JBER Receives Largest Shipment of Munitions in US History
The 3rd Munitions (3rd MUNS) Squadron at Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) has received approximately 150,000 pounds of explosive weight in munitions over an eight-day barge shipment period. Press releases state this weapons shipment in the Arctic is the largest in US history. Reports name BLU-111 unguided bombs in the manifests; these munitions feature carbon fiber shell casings that vaporize upon detonation, reducing shrapnel dispersion and minimizing collateral damage and unintended injuries or deaths. Authorities indicate this shipment was part of the 3rd MUNS annual restock.
The Canadian Zone
(Activity in N.W. Territories, Nunavut, Yukon & More)
10 Apr – 16 Apr: Divided Opinions on Proper Arctic Defense Strategy in Canada Potentially Influence Future High North Militarization Activity
During this reporting period, OSIRIS has detected two emerging (and opposing) Arctic defense strategies amongst Canadian political and academic leadership following the new federal defense-spending budget released last week. The two schools of thought generally represent alliance-based support versus national-based defense. The alliance-based school of philosophy indicates that Canadian military assets are best utilized in support of allied-based activity, especially that which involves the Arctic. National-based defense arguments suggest that an increased permanent military infrastructure needs to exist in the Canadian North. OSIRIS cannot predict the outcome of this national debate at this time, but it recognizes the significance of the debate in determining future militarization activity in the Canadian Zone of the Arctic Region. At this time, a clear militarization direction does not seem fully manifested.
The GUIK Zone
(Activity between Greenland, Iceland & the U.K.)
10-14 April: Joint-Defense Exercise “Northern Viking 2022” Concludes in Iceland, Reportedly Reinforcing the Arctic Nation’s Domestic Security Posturing
Iceland’s two-week bilateral defense exercise with the US Armed Forces, Northern Viking 2022 (NV22), concluded. NV22 also witnessed participation of invited NATO allies. Drills began near the Keflavík Air Base, and many exercises involved anti-submarine warfare routines. Lt. Ásgeir R. Gudjonsson of the Icelandic Coast Guard stated, “Northern Viking is really important for our cooperation in the high north seas and to our country in defense of law enforcement scenarios.” That is, the defense exercise benefited Iceland’s domestic security infrastructure, in addition to a broader regional GIUK focus. Additional data on NV22 regarding NATO partners in the GUIK Zone can be viewed under this report’s “NATO Movements” section.
(Alliance Military Activity Anywhere in the Arctic)
3-9 April: Week One of NATO’s “Northern Viking 2022” Concludes in Iceland, Focused on the Territorial Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) Gap
Over 700 NATO troops participated in the first full week of joint-exercise Northern Viking 2022 (NV22) in and near Keflavik, Iceland. NV22 is scheduled to last between 2-14 April 2022 and was originally scheduled to be held in 2020 but was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seven (7) allied and partner nations participated in the first week of the drill, including France, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, the UK and the US. The mission of NV22 is to increase security readiness in and around the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) Gap, a naval “choke point” in the Arctic.