Department of Defense Announces Establishment of Arctic Regional Center

Editor's note: content for this article is excerpted from the U.S. Department of Defense News Release on 9 June 2021

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Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, has announced the establishment of a new Department of Defense Regional Center, the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies. The center will bring increased cooperation on the unique challenges and security concerns related to the Arctic region.

Defense Department Regional Centers are international academic venues for bilateral and multilateral research, communication, and training with the goal of building strong, sustainable international networks of security leaders. The Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies will develop collaborative insights with allies and partners.

"The center will support the US Interim National Security Strategic Guidance direction to work with like-minded partners and across the interagency to pool our collective strength and advance shared interests," Secretary Austin said. "It will address the need for US engagement and international cooperation to strengthen the rules-based order in the region and tackle shared challenges such as climate change."

The Ted Stevens Center will provide a new venue to collaborate with our allies and partners to advance shared interests for a peaceful and prosperous Arctic. The Department is currently determining the appropriate location for the center.

End of excerpted text.


Perspective from Marisol Maddox, Arctic Analyst at the Wilson Center's Polar Institute:
Marisol Maddox, an Arctic analyst at the Wilson Center's Polar Institute, observes that the inclusion of climate change in the establishment of the center is significant. She notes that climate change has a tremendous potential to be destabilizing—from thawing permafrost that damages military installations to growing food insecurity to the melting of land-based ice that weakens the Gulf Stream and contributes to sea level rise. "The establishment of the center is an important step toward coordinating the different partners that we need to be engaging for both traditional and non-traditional security threats, such as climate change."
Maddox noted further that it will take time to get the center up and running. "In the meantime, leaders can leverage existing forums, such as the Arctic security roundtable at the Munich Security Conference and the idea for an Arctic Ocean Naval Symposium to increase dialogue and further regional cooperation on shared concerns. We definitely need to have better communication with Russia, because the military risk level has become unacceptably high."

For more information or questions about the Wilson Center and the Polar Institute, please contact Marisol Maddox (Marisol.Maddox [at] wilsoncenter.org)

About the Contributor

Marisol Maddox
Marisol Maddox is an Arctic analyst at the Polar Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a non-resident research fellow at the Center for Climate and Security. Her research interests include the security and geopolitical implications of actorless threats such as climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as international collaboration opportunities, with a regional focus on the Arctic.