Sullivan Reacts to New National Strategy for the Arctic

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today issued the following statement in response to the White House’s release of a new “National Strategy for the Arctic Region.” 

“When I first came to the Senate, the Obama administration had an Arctic strategy document that was thirteen pages long, filled with mostly pictures, mentioned climate change five times, and only mentioned Russia in a footnote. I fought for legislation requiring the Pentagon and all of the military services to produce serious, detailed strategies to protect our nation’s interests in the Arctic. These strategies are intended to send a strong message to our allies and adversaries that the United States will project and sustain power throughout the Arctic now and into the future.

“The White House’s new Arctic Strategy, released today, is an improvement from where we were in 2013, but still lacks a level of detail and sober-minded seriousness that we need to contend with this new era of authoritarian aggression led by Russia’s dictator, Vladimir Putin, and China’s dictator, Xi Jinping.

“I appreciate the strategy’s full-throated support for increasing America’s operational capabilities, infrastructure, and Coast Guard and naval vessels in the Arctic, and for elevating the voices and interests of the people who actually live in the Arctic—Alaskans who’ve inhabited these lands for millennia 

“However, the document’s excessive focus on climate change—in a security strategy—sends a troubling message: that despite America’s increasing national economic and security interests in the Arctic that are being directly challenged by Russia, and increasingly challenged by China, the administration will continue to focus on shutting down responsible resource development, like oil, natural gas, and critical minerals in Alaska. Such actions clearly undermine America’s national security interests. For example, while the strategy highlights the opportunity presented by ‘significant deposits of in-demand minerals,’ this assertion is completely at odds with the Biden administration’s own actions, like shutting down Alaska’s Ambler Access Project. 

“Going forward, the administration needs to undertake a dramatic course correction on resource development opportunities in the Arctic, fully acknowledge the implications of long-term strategic competition, not only with Russia, but in particular with China, and support this security strategy with the investments necessary to defend our homeland.”

In the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Sen. Sullivan secured a provision requiring the secretary of defense and the service secretaries to submit a plan on how they will implement the Department of Defense’s (DOD) 2019 Arctic Strategy to defend the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and develop Arctic infrastructure and capabilities. 

In December 2021, the Senate passed the FY 2022 NDAA that included the Sullivan-authored Arctic Security Initiative Act of 2021. This legislation requires the DOD to conduct a security assessment of the Arctic region and establish an Arctic Security Initiative (ASI) with a five-year plan to fully resource the DOD and individual service-specific strategies for the Arctic that have been released over the past several years. U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) would lead the independent assessment in coordination with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and U.S. European Command (USEUCOM).


  • In April 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard released its “Arctic Strategic Outlook.
  • In June 2019, the DOD released its Arctic strategy document
  • In July 2020, the U.S. Air Force released its Arctic strategy document, which Sullivan called the “most robust U.S. Arctic strategy document to date.” The strategy lays out an expansion of the competitive space in the Arctic under four lines of effort: vigilance in all domains, projecting power through a combat-credible force, cooperation with allies & partners, and preparation for Arctic operations. Importantly, this strategy also emphasizes continued work and collaboration with Alaska Native communities.
  • In January 2021, the U.S. Navy released its Arctic strategy document, titled “A Blue Arctic.” The strategy states that naval forces must expand their role in Alaska—and the greater Arctic region—through the pursuit of three main objectives: maintaining enhanced presence, strengthening cooperative relationships, and building a more capable Arctic naval force. 
  • In January 2021, the Department of Homeland Security released it’s first-ever Arctic strategy
  • In March 2021, the U.S. Army released its first-ever strategy for the Arctic.
  • In January 2022, the Army Corps of Engineers announced $250 million for the Port of Nome, which would be America’s first strategic Arctic port, following strong advocacy by Sen. Sullivan and the Alaska congressional delegation.
  • In June 2022, U.S. Army Alaska was re-designated as the 11th Airborne Division to help fulfill the aims of the Army’s Arctic strategy.
  • In July 2022, the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 with a provision secured by Sen. Sullivan to increase the federal cost share for the Nome Arctic Deep Draft Port, resulting in community savings of roughly $132 million. 

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