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NWC Report Details Navy's Challenges for Sustained Operations in Changing Arctic Region

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120321-06

By James E. Brooks, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs

NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- Stronger relationships with international partners and specialized capabilities are needed to conduct sustained operations in the changing Arctic region was the primary finding of an operations game report posted online March 21 by the U.S. Naval War College (NWC).

The game report contains the findings and recommendations gained from multinational players who participated in the Fleet Arctic Operations Game (FAOG) Sept. 13-16, 2011 at NWC. The purpose of FAOG was to identify gaps and limits of sustained maritime operations in the changing Arctic region.

"What this report contains are those things we learned during the gaming process that senior Navy leadership should consider with regards to changing doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership, education, personnel and funding," said Walter Berbrick, NWC's Arctic region analyst. "The findings indicate the Navy is entering a new realm in the Arctic. Instead of other nations relying on the U.S. Navy for capabilities and resources, sustained operations in the Arctic region will require the Navy to rely on other nations for capabilities and resources."

NWC FAOG game director Cmdr. Christopher Gray said the report's findings and recommendations reflect challenges of the changing Arctic maritime environment and the need for international maritime cooperation emphasized by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert at the International Seapower Symposium held at NWC Oct. 19, 2011.

"Maritime activity is increasing in the Arctic despite the many challenges there," said Gray. "This game not only identified gaps in the maritime force's ability to monitor that activity but also helped cultivate trust and understanding among the group of multinational participants."

More than 85 mid- to senior-level naval officers, civilian government officials and industry experts as well as representatives from several partner nations participated in FAOG. Players were invited based on their specialized knowledge of the Arctic region or functional expertise related to cold weather ships, facilities, systems and how they work in cold-weather operations.

"This report is not the opinion of NWC or the Navy but that of a multinational group," said Berbrick. "There was consensus that there is a great deal of risk in light of the climate, the distance required to travel to the Arctic, and naturally the presence of ice, fog and high winds. In order to reduce the risk of failing a U.S. military operation in the Arctic, resources and capabilities through partnerships with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Joint Task Force Alaska, tribal leaders, industry, and multinational partners will be required."

The findings and recommendations of FAOG were presented to senior leaders at Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, the Navy's Task Force Climate Change, and U.S. European Command. Recently, the game's findings and recommendations were shared to senior leaders at Commander, Third Fleet, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, and Canadian Navy Maritime Forces Pacific in San Diego, Calif.

"NWC's support of this operations game provides great insight to maritime operations in a challenging and changing Arctic environment," said Cmdr. Mike Frantz, U.S. Fleet Forces Command's director of fleet experimentation.

For more than 125 years, NWC's War Gaming Department has conducted high-quality applied gaming, research, analysis, and education to support the Naval War College mission, prepare future maritime leaders, help shape decisions on the Navy's future, and strengthen international maritime relationships. Gaming serves as an effective technique to explore, examine and debate dynamic and complex issues or problems, influence military and civilian decision makers, and foster enduring partnerships.

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