NEWS | April 10, 2019

Admiral Says US Committed to Free and Open Arctic

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Force Europe-Africa and commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy spoke at the 17th Regional Alumni Symposium, Arctic and Cyber Security conference in Bergen, Norway, April 10, 2019.

The conference, co-sponsored by the U.S. Naval War College and the Royal Norwegian Navy, explored a wide range of topics under the overarching theme of "Challenges in Arctic and Cyber Security."

"It's nobody's lake," said Foggo, referring to the Arctic region. "The Arctic is an international domain, and that is why we are interested in keeping it free and open."

Foggo noted comments from Russian officials' requiring nations to give Russia 45-day advance notice before transiting the Northern Sea route or risk possible attack from Russia. The admiral said this goes against international laws and norms and and has the potential to increase tensions in the region.

"The United States is an Arctic nation and has enduring security interest in the Arctic region," he said. "We seek an Arctic region that is stable and free of conflict."

The U.S. Department of Defense Arctic strategy outlines the potential opportunity in the Arctic - oil, gas, fishing - but also notes the important of the Arctic region in defense of the country. The Navy assists with freedom of navigation in the region and works with European allies and partners for deterrence, presence, and Arctic security operations.

Foggo also highlighted Russia's modernization of its navy and its renewed capabilities in the North Atlantic and reoccupying seven of its former Soviet Union bases in the Arctic circle.

"We operate in the Arctic in line with international laws and norms and welcome other countries to operate in the Arctic as long as that presence is in compliance with international norms and rules of behavior," said Foggo.

The United States works with key allies in the Arctic, including Canada, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and NATO's Enhanced Opportunity Partners Sweden and Finland.

"We will continue to monitor Russia's aggressive behavior, while continuing to dialogue where we have common interests," said Foggo. "Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the NATO alliance is about three Ds: deter, defend, and dialogue. And the alliance allows our political and military leaders to participate in such dialogue with other countries, including Russia, from a position of strength."

Foggo thanked Norway for its contributions to NATO, in the North Atlantic, the Arctic, and its key role in hosting last year's exercise Trident Juncture, the largest NATO exercise since the Cold War. The exercise was conducted in the North Atlantic and the Arctic Circle and involved more than 50,000 service members and civilians, 250 aircraft, 70 ships, and 10,000 vehicles.

"It is important to remember that the United States and Norway share an outlook that the Arctic region should be free of conflict, where nations act responsibly," U.S. Ambassador to Norway, Kenneth Braithwaite said during his remarks at the conference. "The Arctic region is of vital importance to both the United States and Europe, and Norway plays a critical role with respect to the region"

The U.S. will work together with our ally and partner nations to ensure our home-nations are protected and will work cooperatively to address challenges as they arise. U.S. 6th Fleet routinely operates in the arctic to sustain our joint military advantages globally and regionally.

"The U.S. Navy is committed to freedom of navigation in the Arctic and oceans around the world," said Foggo.

CNE-A, headquartered in Naples, oversees joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, to enable enduring relationships and increase vigilance and resilience in Europe and Africa.