Once a remote outpost for adventurers and explorers, the Arctic region is becoming increasingly important as a gateway for trade, natural resource extraction and national security.
Washington State is the perfect match for the Department of Defense’s 2013 Arctic Strategy, which outlined the nation’s goal of creating “a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected and nations work cooperatively to address challenges.”
This evolving DoD strategy requires continual monitoring of the region as well as the ability to respond quickly to a wide range of challenges and contingencies. Washington State is well positioned to meet this important mission, with six active duty military installations and a major homeland security installation.
A turnkey solution for the Arctic
Naval Base Kitsap has the ability to maintain the nation’s Arctic fleet and is the only West Coast base capable of accommodating Nimitz-class carriers. Sixty percent of the nation’s ballistic missile subs are stationed nearby at Bangor, while Naval Station Everett offers rapid deployment to the Pacific Ocean. The nation’s only heavy ice breakers are based in the Puget Sound region, providing access to U.S. interests in the Arctic year-round. Joint Base Lewis McChord is the joint Army-Air Force base and is the only power-projection platform west of the Rocky Mountains.
Supporting U.S. forces in the state is a thriving maritime industry. The maritime workforce is three times the national average in Washington State, employed by companies such as JM Maritime, Nichols Bros. Boat Builders and Safe Boats International, which have provided ship building, repair and maintenance services to the military in the past.
Washington State continues to look to the future, not only in building upon its existing military capabilities, but looking to the next generation of defense systems. The University of Washington, one of the leading research and development facilities in the U.S., is heavily involved in attracting two new programs to the state: the U.S. Arctic Research and Security Coordination Center, which would deliver changes in Arctic conditions and trends directly to military personnel in real time, and the Ocean Warfighting Environment Applied Research grant, which would extend Washington’s ability to meet emerging needs in the Arctic region in the decades to come.
Our geographic proximity to the Arctic and the entire Pacific-Asian region offers the military unparalleled flexibility. A major portion of the required infrastructure is already in place, saving the government time and money in building their Arctic strategy. Every branch of the military has a presence in Washington State, providing the Department of Defense with a scalable, coordinated response to nearly any scenario imaginable. This not only allows the military to respond rapidly, appropriately and decisively from a single location, but provides Washington State businesses with opportunities to help the military strengthen its Arctic presence and fulfill its mission effectively.