US Military Looks to Expand Presence in Arctic With New Ships, Facilities

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The U.S. Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy are updating individual Arctic strategies to expand their military presence in the region amid the growing threats of Russia and China, USNI News reported Wednesday.

The military has been facing challenges in deploying ships and building infrastructures in the Arctic due to logistics and the tyranny of distance, according to service officials. 

Retired Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft suggested that the Pentagon increases private-public partnerships to support Arctic operations, missions and stationing.

The three service branches mainly aim to build new ports and other facilities around Alaska to support such missions. 

The Air Force already started moving F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters to support F-22s and F-16s currently stationed in the state. The service is also expected to deploy up to 10,000 airmen to the region.

Meanwhile, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said his service might spend $1.3B to establish its presence on an island in the Aleutians off the Alaskan coast. 

For the Coast Guard, its expanding Arctic presence will focus on deploying capabilities to monitor and protect territorial waters, such as icebreaker ships.

Russia and China reportedly are modernizing military installations and ships to operate in Arctic waters.

The Coast Guard plans to release its updated Arctic strategy at the National Press Club in December, while Air Force and Navy officials expect to issue their strategies in early 2019.

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