Alaska Arctic Policy Commission Co-Chairs Senator Lesil McGuire and Representative Bob Herron have approved of a recent DoD report, introduced by United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, but pointed out that the overarching language is short on details and lacks a plan for implementation.
Chuck Hagel, announced the release of his agency's 14-page “Arctic Strategy”, touting it as a plan to ensure security, support safety and promote defense cooperation in the region. Hagel chose the International Security Forum at Halifax, Nova Scotia, as the venue for his announcement where he recognized the challenges of climate change and new trends in global geopolitics while calling for Arctic nations to work together to avoid conflict.
The report discusses in broad terms a Department of Defense (DoD) strategy of strength, presence, cooperation, and enduring peace in the Arctic. The strategy is designed to complement the White House’s National Strategy for the Arctic Region (NSAR), released in May.
“Secretary Hagel's announcement is a welcome development in this critical policy area," explained Senator Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage. "We, through the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC), have been working diligently toward the development of a comprehensive Arctic Policy for Alaska. At the same time, we have been urging our federal counterparts to give this important policy area the attention it deserves."
“Hagel's announcement underscores the timeliness and importance of our Commission's work," pointed out Representative Bob Herron, D-Bethel. "This DoD strategy is going to continue to evolve, and Alaska’s challenge is to continue paying attention to the development of this, and to all federal Arctic policies, in the months, years and decades ahead so that Alaskans can have a say before plans that will affect us in our homeland are finalized."
The AAPC Co-Chairs say that they continue to meet regularly with the White House and State Department's NSAR Task Force, as the Task Force works on an implementation plan for their strategy this winter. Senator McGuire and Representative Herron believe it is critical to continue engaging with Federal agencies, to ensure that Alaska's perspectives and priorities are understood and respected.
“Alaska is more than just a stakeholder in the Arctic. We are a sovereign, and need to be recognized as such. In the AAPC’s view, Alaska, after all, is the reason the United States is an Arctic Nation," emphasized Senator McGuire.
Meanwhile, the AAPC itself is working on developing Alaska’s own Arctic strategy, with a preliminary report due to the Legislature January 30, 2014.