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Have Biden and Harris silently conceded the Arctic?

Since 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense has published five separate arctic strategy documents, all illustrating the strategic importance of Alaska in the arctic region.

Indirectly supporting the assessments provided in the documents is the historical military activity of the Russians and Chinese in the skies and waters near Alaska. Activity by both nations also recognizes Alaska’s strategic importance while simultaneously expressing more than just their passive interest in the state. However, American strategy involving the arctic region (inclusive of Alaska) appears to be nothing more than a “paper tiger” with sentiment being reinforced by the Biden/Harris administration’s neglect for the regional strategic importance of the state.

The Russians are actively dominating and spreading influence across the region while simultaneously bringing the Chinese along for the ride. Yet, the Biden/Harris administration continues to turn a blind eye to the arctic region, and Alaska, without concern.

Extensive analysis of Russian and Chinese military activity near Alaska since 2017 has determined that the Arctic-avenue of approach to the U.S. homeland is a critical vulnerability in U.S. defense. Analysis exposes a vulnerability for high exploitation by our adversaries and one which the Russians exploited just days after Biden/Harris entered office. On Jan. 26, 2021, it was reported that NORAD had detected and tracked two Russian Tu-142 “Bear” maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft crossing into the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

The extent of U.S. vulnerability was confirmed in April 2021 when Lt. Gen. David Krumm, commander of Alaska Command and Eleventh Air Force, stated that the amount of Russian aircraft activity around Alaska from mid-2020 until April 2021 is “the highest activity we’ve had since the fall of the Soviet Union.” Earlier this month, four Chinese warships were spotted conducting operations within approximately 46 miles of the Aleutian Islands. Adversary actions described illustrate not only reach and capability, but also serve to illustrate that our adversaries recognize the lack of US defense capabilities in/around Alaska.

Ever increasing Russian and Chinese military activity near Alaska should have all Alaskans tremendously concerned. More concerning is the fact that Biden/Harris outwardly express no immediate interest in the security of Alaska, the homeland, or the U.S. Arctic which could potentially abandon Americans there in the event of arctic conflict spillage. Even as Alaska Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski consistently stress regional security concerns to the Biden/Harris administration, and though the DoD announced the future establishment of the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies in June of this year, no one in the administration appears to be listening or concerned with defending our nation from attack via an arctic approach.

Continued actions of neglect call to question just how soft the administration is in its dealings with Russia and China. As well, one must wonder if the Biden/Harris administration has silently conceded Alaska in a brokered Arctic side-deal with our adversaries. For many, this is a plausible consideration.

Russia and Alaska are less than 60 miles apart across the Bering Strait. In comparison, that is 30 miles less than is the case between Cuba and Key West. In China’s quest for recognition as a “Near Arctic State,” Russia appears to have acknowledged Xi’s ambitions as is evidenced by their joint military presence in, and around, the Bering Strait. With the evolution of hypersonic glide technology combined with close geographical physical proximity, the Russian’s or Chinese could literally strike Alaska without warning. With the antiquated U.S. defense capabilities currently positioned in Alaska, there would be little time for response or intercept if there were any response at all.

Russia now holds chairmanship of the Arctic Council, presenting Putin control of his own destiny in the arctic region as well as the destiny of Chinese recognition in the Arctic. The Biden/Harris administration has failed, or outright neglected, to recognize the rapidly evolving potential for conflict in the Arctic Region and the dangers directly posed to Alaska and other arctic nations. These facts should be concerning to not only all Alaskans, but also to all Americans. Biden and Harris are placing American lives at risk due to their failure to accept that Alaska is the frontline of the New Cold War.

L. Shane Land is combat disabled veteran and independent politico-military affairs writer. He has military and federal operational experience in Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa. He resides with his family near Wasilla.

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