Arctic in Flames

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Arctic in Flames

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

Of all the theaters of militarized international rivalry in the early 21st century, the Arctic promises to be the most complex and unpredictable. In terms of domain, military operations there would be conducted on land, in the air, on the sea surface, but also in the depths of the Arctic Ocean under ice cover. The geographic remoteness and climactic harshness of the climate and terrain mean any conflict there would be fought the gaze of international media or citizen reporters. Next to the Antarctic, the Arctic is one of the few areas of the global commons that has not yet been apportioned among the major and minor powers. And the stakes for all the players are quite high.

Military presence in the Arctic and extension of one’s national sovereignty over it promises to yield the interested states and alliances with several sets of benefits. The first and most obvious is the access to copious natural resources, starting with hydrocarbons, lurking under the still relatively unexplored continental shelf there. The second one is the surveillance and/or control over maritime shipping routes whose importance will only increase as polar ice cover retreats. Thirdly, the Arctic does include some militarily very valuable real estate, in the form of great many islands and archipelagoes that may be used for advanced military outposts and bases.

In all three cases, the United States is acting as the spoiler, unhappy with the current state of affairs. It aims to extend its control over natural resources in the region, establish permanent presence in other countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZ) through the use of the so-called “freedom of navigation operations” (FONOPs), and continue to encircle Russia with ballistic missile defense (BMD) sites and platforms.

In view of the urgent and evident US preparations to be able to fight and prevail in a war against a nuclear adversary, by defeating the adversary’s nuclear arsenal through the combination of precision non-nuclear strikes (including by the broad range of hypersonic missiles currently under development) and BMD systems, it would appear that third benefit is of the greatest importance to the United States, though certainly not the only one. The recent sortie by a force of US Navy BMD-capable AEGIS destroyers into the Barents Sea, the first such mission since the end of the Cold War over two decades ago, shows the interest United States has in projecting BMD capabilities into regions north of Russia’s coastline, where they might be able to effect boost-phase interceptions of Russian ballistic missiles that would be launched in retaliatory strikes against the United States.

US operational planning for the Arctic in all likelihood resembles that for South China Sea, with only a few corrections for climate. The key similarity of both potential theaters of war is that the decisive fighting would be in the air or at or under the sea, culminating in comparatively small amphibious operations and battles for relatively small and/or isolated islands. Once one side prevails in the air and at sea, the outcome of these land battles would be all but foreordained. As the experience of World War 2 “island-hopping” campaigns in the Pacific shows, no isolated island fortress can survive for very long once it is isolated from own air and naval support. Every Japanese outpost targeted by the US eventually fell, and did not require masses of troops to overcome their resistance thanks to overwhelming naval and aerial firepower US forces brought to bear. Campaigns in the Arctic would follow a similar course, with US naval task forces pushing into the teeth of Russia’s submarines, land-based missile batteries, and land-based fighter and bomber squadrons. The recently announced plans to revamp the US Marine Corps that include doing away with its tank battalions and much of field artillery, while adding land-based anti-ship missile capabilities for the first time ever, suggest USMC is being tailored for such small-scale island-hopping operations in the Arctic, South China Sea, and other such theaters of war, to the detriment of its ability to conduct counter-insurgency or large-scale high-intensity combat operations.

The small size of forces used by both sides also means a premium will be placed on the element of surprise, since a small garrison on a remote Arctic island garrison could be overcome relatively quickly, in the manner similar to which the original Argentinian invasion of the Falklands succeeded in routing the Royal Marine garrison so quickly that no real fighting took place.

The remoteness of these islands, the small size of the military forces, and the practically non-existent potential for collateral damage due to absence of large civilian populations also mean that the use of low-yield nuclear weapons, against both land facilities and naval forces at sea, is far easier to contemplate than in any conflict in Europe or Asia. The remoteness of this theater of operations also means nuclear strikes would have a lower risk of strategic escalation, as long as all the nuclear adversaries refrained from targeting enemy mainland.

At the outset, however, the dominant weapon systems would be intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles, launched from land-based launchers as well as aerial and naval platforms. The US withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty means the US Army will have a large number of ground-launched missiles with ranges exceeding 500km in service, such as the Precision Strike Missile. The US Marine Corps is planning to organize Littoral Regiments whose armament will include Naval Strike Missiles on unmanned truck-based launchers, and which are intended for such island campaigns in the South China Sea but also elsewhere. Moreover, US Navy and US Air Force plan to introduce hypersonic missiles into their arsenals by the end of the decade as well. The current US procurement plans mean that by 2030 the United States could expect to concentrate overwhelming intermediate-range missile firepower in any given single theater of operations, be it the Persian Gulf, the Pacific Rim, or the Arctic.

At the same time the United States will have to solve the problem of disunity within its own camp. United States covetous eye has been cast not only on those areas of the Arctic within Russia’s continental shelf, but also Canada’s Northwest Passage and even Denmark’s Greenland. The US intent to procure a small fleet of icebreakers is intended to enable “Freedom of Navigation Operations” in what Canada views its territorial waters, and Donald Trump actually may have revealed a state secret when he spoke of the United States buying Greenland from Denmark and setting up a Trump Tower there. With the COVID-19 revealing America’s weakness for all the world to sea and the Europeans discovering an urgent need for unity and cooperation, United States might yet discover a unified European Union to be a formidable opponent when it comes to protecting its own interests.

The United State is slowly but steadily losing the geo-economic race in the Arctic with Russia and China. In the situation when there is no chance to push forward own successful projects, Washington has opted the strategy of undermining efforts of other states. The fast development of Russia’s Northern Sea Route is the source of the especial concern of the US strategists. Therefore, the US diplomatic activity and the so-called “freedom of navigation operations” are now mostly focused on undermining and limiting the freedom of navigation in the way that would allow to contain the Chinese-Russian cooperation in the region. If Washington cannot catch-up Moscow and Beijing in the field, it will do all what it can to at least slow down the progress of their joint projects.

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  • colchuck

    The video kept stopping over and over, so I gave up on watching it but so interesting.

  • RockyFjord

    Intermittent pauses of clock spinning, please see if some techne fix is possible on your end?

    The American psychic [if such exists] Edgar Cayce, predicted (in 1940’s I suppose), conflicts
    over shipping lanes in the then future. One of the specific straits he mentioned was the Davis
    Strait between Canada and Greenland. Arctic shipping was unknown in the 1940’s, no? Which
    makes such a prediction eerily prescient.

  • Ivan Freely

    The recently announced plans to revamp the US Marine Corps that include
    doing away with its tank battalions and much of field artillery, while
    adding land-based anti-ship missile capabilities for the first time
    ever, suggest USMC is being tailored for such small-scale island-hopping
    operations in the Arctic, South China Sea, and other such theaters of
    war, to the detriment of its ability to conduct counter-insurgency or
    large-scale high-intensity combat operations.

    IIRC, former SecDef Robert Gates had stated that large-scale combat operations are a thing of the past. It’s probably has to do with the weapons that we have today.

    • AM Hants

      However, they have no ice breakers in working order or portable nuclear units. Unlike Russia.

  • AlexanderAmproz

    71% Of Military Age Americans Too Sick To Join, Study Says

    https://www.naturalblaze.com/2018/03/71-percent-military-age-americans-too-sick-join.html

    When do the US will learn to eat properly instead of Junk-Food for Junkies ?

    “Tell me what do you eat, I will tell you who you are”

    • Aaron Aarons

      I would want to saturate the U.S. with junk food that appeals particularly to patriots.

      • AlexanderAmproz

        Every Empire has it’s own destruction genes,
        just be patient, rotten fruits fall alone….

        • Aaron Aarons

          As a hyper-lazy person, I appreciate your rationalization for my not doing anything.

        • Julia25

          Hi! Wanna some cyberlove? Join me: http://tiny.cc/e701pz

      • A Proud Black Republican

        its called oxy-cotton

      • Bill Wilson

        We already have plenty of Taco Bells and Sonic Drive-ins.

    • vivekananda

      71% Of Military Age Americans Too Sick To Join, Study Says

      as in russia

      • AlexanderAmproz

        Pork look is a US Colonial Empire Damaged Culture,
        following the processed junk-food and Coca-cola trail

        I didn’t noticed Moscow is that much US Junkies tainted !

      • Bill Wilson

        I wouldn’t say sick but just out of shape from a lack of exercise.

  • A Proud Black Republican

    If its true that Russia is starting to run out of oil, it will be interesting to see how much oil is under Russia’s claimed area

    • AM Hants

      Russia running out of oil? +? Gossip with no links?

      • vivekananda

        yup. moscow is in big trouble. they are not able to fullfill the contract with china due to less ois as calculated.

        • AM Hants

          Moscow in trouble owing to a lack of energy?

          Contract with Poland has expired and how much money has Poland lost, via transit fees?

          Nord Stream has picked up where Poland lost out.

          Russia is in charge of her vast wealth of natural resources. Her currency and gold reserves are over $550 billion and rising. Unlike most nations she can afford free healthcare and education for her people. Including University Level. I know my chancellor of the exchequer goes to bed dreaming, if only he had an economy similar to Russia, things would be so good.

    • Jim Bim

      A Proud Black Republican…..without a brain.

      • A Proud Black Republican

        Your son is gay

  • Tommy Jensen

    We are not undermining anything. On the contrary we are letting Russia and China to build up the infrastructure where after we are taking over the Arctic Global Leadership………………….LOL.

    US could invade Islands along the arctic, build up military bases on these Islands, weaken Russia military with in a 2 week precision strikes by a carpet bombing attacks with swarm hypersonic nuclear drones, but why should we?

    Let the others make the hard work for you, and let THEM pay………………………….LOL.

    • AM Hants

      BS.

      How many ice breakers, in working order does the US have?

      How many does Russia have?

      How many portable, nuclear, floating units does the US have?

      How many does Russia have?

      ‘Law of the Sea’ the convention which covers international law, concerning the Arctic. The convention the US have not signed and are not part of.

      Russia, who has sent ground samples of the Arctic Shelf, to the UN. Showing the same DNA analysis as Russia’s Syberian territory.

      Russia, who only spends $47 billion (and decreasing) on defence. Yet, has the most powerful military, including state of the art nuclear submarines, new subs in a variety of classes. Active service hyper sonics and the ‘must have’ missile defence systems, that are up to date and in full working order, with the next level soon to be launched.

      US who spend, is it $750 billion (and rising) on defence, but, how much is in working order? Largest military, but, certainly not the most powerful.

      • Tommy Jensen

        If US is managing the finances and sits in the Board, it doesnt need all the hard stuff.

        The people who saw, harvest and exploit it, own it. Thats the good old principle no matter how many legal lines one or another country draw in the sand………………….LOL.

  • Thanks, great report!

  • kenpachi

    artic is sitting right between two nuclear giants. its the first front these days

  • AM Hants

    The Arctic is under ‘Law of the Sea Convention’, with regard international law. The US has not ratified the agreement, so has no say. Which is why it expects Greenland to be gifted to the US. Russia is the only nation to have provided the UN with ground samples. Showing the DNA structure of the Arctic Bed, to Russian territory.

  • vivekananda

    The russian tayga is in flames! already more forest was burned than in brasil. :(

    • Bill Wilson

      I wouldn’t worry about that since it’s Mother Nature’s way to add nutrients to the soil.

      • vivekananda

        no boy, 20 years are needed to have a new forest. this is not tropical region.

  • Jacob Wohl’s Mother

    Brilliant analysis by Southfront, as usual.

  • LS

    Russia and China should carry out aggressive preemptive measures early on–like right now.

    Also, Russia and China should publicly adopt a standing policy of striking the mainland of any country that deploys ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons against them in a military conflict.

  • Lightning Patriot

    What’s the name of the music used in these videos?