Naval War College hosts six-nation Arctic initiative

Photo of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson providing remarks during the Newport Arctic Scholars Initiative held at U.S. Naval War College
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson provides remarks during the Newport Arctic Scholars Initiative held at U.S. Naval War College. The meeting brought together naval sailors and scholars from six Arctic nations to engage and discuss the challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities of preserving peace and stability in the Arctic.
(U.S. Navy photo by Edwin L. Wriston/Released)

NEWPORT, R.I. – The Newport Arctic Scholars Initiative (NASI) kicked off a 13-month research program at U.S. Naval War College (NWC), April 10.

The three-day event brought together 19 scholars and sailors from six Arctic nations to address seapower-related research questions concerning the collective defense and security of the region.

“As the Arctic Ocean region becomes more complicated and interconnected, the potential for serious unintended consequences grows,” said Walter A. Berbrick, director of NWC’s Arctic Studies Group and co-lead scholar of the initiative. “As these threats evolve, so too must our economic, security and defense relationships. There must be a persistent effort between our citizens – and between our navies – to listen and learn from one another.”

The goal of NASI is to strengthen international cooperation and produce a report that will offer guidance on plausible maritime strategy options to each nation’s national security decision makers.

“My hope for this research program is to guide your national decision-makers in understanding the Arctic development to better consider risks and opportunities to ensure the peaceful, prosperous and safe development of the Arctic region and your nations,” said retired Rear Adm. Lars Saunes, former chief of the Royal Norwegian navy and fellow co-lead scholar of the initiative, to those in attendance.

The first of three seminar meetings, the event provided a forum for the co-lead scholars and research teams to share the latest research and naval Arctic strategies, as well as establish guidelines and initial goals for their research.

“As competing powers pursue their maritime strategies in the Arctic Ocean, my aim for the initiative will be to identify potential security challenges, threats and opportunities for cooperation, and to increase the knowledge and support to national decision making,” said Saunes.

Using a collaborative model to translate theory into practice, NASI will provide a platform for sailors and scholars from across the Arctic region to engage in multi-disciplinary research and analysis in one of three areas: awareness, partnerships and readiness.

Nations currently participating in the initiative include the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway.

“There is this thawing mystery waiting to be unlocked,” said Berbrick. “The Newport Arctic Initiative will change that by giving sailors and scholars the platform and tools they need to get a more complete and accurate picture of the changes taking place on, below and above this new ocean and a better understanding of how we can apply and integrate seapower in it.

“That knowledge could be – will be – transformative.”

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Daniel S. Marciniak

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