U.S. Naval War College and Royal Danish Defence College Host Newport Arctic Scholars Initiative Seminar

Dean at the Royal Danish Defence College Henrik Breitenbauch
Dean at the Royal Danish Defence College Henrik Breitenbauch. Kamilla Elming Lausten, RDDC

Newport, R.I. - The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) and the Royal Danish Defence College co-hosted the third annual Newport Arctic Scholars Initiative (NASI) Capstone seminar, April 11-13, in Copenhagen, Denmark, to discuss ways to strengthen maritime alliances and partnerships in the Arctic region.

“The Arctic has enjoyed decades of peace and stability, and for this to continue, we must reassert and reimagine our alliances and partnerships in a Blue Arctic, stretching from the North Pacific to the North Atlantic,” said Walter Berbrick, Ph.D., NWC associate professor and NWC NASI co-lead.

The seminar kicked off with several keynote addresses and panel discussions focused on priorities, presence, and partnerships of Arctic naval forces. Following the remarks portions of the seminar, participants came together for a tabletop exercise to identify critical naval problems and activities in a more contested Blue Arctic in 2050.

The Honorable Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Navy, gave a keynote address and discussed how integrated sea power plays an important role in strengthening strategic partnerships.

“Integrated sea power in a Blue Arctic requires us to strengthen our strategic partnerships,” said Del Toro. “This is an enduring priority for the Department of the Navy and a critical cornerstone of the department’s Arctic Blueprint.”

Participants highlighted the critical need to better understand what integrated naval deterrence looks like in the Arctic, how current agreements, like Incidents at Sea (INCSEA) agreements, can expand to the region, and the need to integrate key allies and partners from Asia and Europe in future Arctic security dialogue and engagement opportunities.

“As sailors and scholars, we share a common culture—a distinct culture of inquiry and progress,” said Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, president, U.S. Naval War College. “We share a mutual appreciation for the maritime heritage along our northern shores. And we share a common culture to preserve a free and open international order that we cherish and benefit from today.”

Since 2018, sailors and scholars from Arctic countries have collaborated annually on a 10-month multidisciplinary research project. The work of the inaugural NASI cohort produced 30 international principles of Arctic security, scheduled to be published in the Newport Manual on Arctic Security later this fall.

Building off this work, the 2020 NASI cohort produced the Conflict Prevention & Security Cooperation in the Arctic Frameworks of the Future Report, which highlighted gaps and potential mitigations of multinational frameworks to prevent conflict and promote security in the Arctic. The 2021 NASI cohort explored a potential framework for bringing together international heads of the Navy to discuss and build professional cooperation on Arctic security matters.

“The Newport Arctic Scholars Initiative is a unique and powerful example of what happens when we empower our people, work together, and invest in education and research,” said Del Toro.

The Arctic nations represented were Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the United States, though the members are taking part as scholars and not as officials of their respective governments.

“Our academic findings from this study and this conference are essential for informing policymakers in all of our nations,” said Chatfield in her closing remarks. “Make no mistake that the work you have done here will have a direct and measurable impact on the policies of arctic council member states.”

The 2022 NASI cohort will convene for their opening seminar in Newport later this fall.

A Blue Arctic provides the general idea that the Arctic is gradually turning from “White” to “Blue”— and by that, reduced ice coverage is making Arctic waters more accessible and navigable, which will enable nations and their navies to access new sea routes, resources, and markets. DON’s Strategic Blueprint for a Blue Arctic can be found here: Strategic Blueprint for a Blue Arctic.

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Michael Guterl, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
May 06, 2022

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