Towards the Militarization of the Arctic: The US-Canada Tri-Command Strategy

The Arctic has become an important part of North American perimeter security. Recently, the U.S. and Canada signed two new agreements that will expand bilateral military training, security and defense operations in the region. Both countries are working together to prepare for any real or perceived threats and are moving towards merging their Arctic foreign policies.

On December 11, 2012, the U.S. and Canada signed the Tri-Command Framework for Arctic Cooperation which will further integrate United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

According to a press release, the framework is designed to, “promote enhanced military cooperation in the Arctic and identify specific areas of potential Tri-Command cooperation in the preparation for and conduct of safety, security and defense operations.”

USNORTHCOM, CJOC and NORAD will work more closely in the region with regards to planning, domain awareness, information-sharing, training and exercises, operations, capability development, as well as in the area of science and technology. This also ties in with the Tri-Command Training and Exercise Statement of Intent. The newly signed military document is aimed at, “enhancing joint and combined readiness in support of safety, security and defense missions through combined training and exercises and reinforcing partnerships and collaboration among the Commands.”

The latest U.S.-Canada military agreements are part of the Tri-Command strategy and demonstrate the importance being placed on the Arctic. The Tri-Command Vision has previously called for USNORTHCOM, NORAD and Canada Command which has now been replaced by CJOC to, “Improve unity of effort with each other and with our respective mission partners; develop a culture of continuous collaboration and cooperation in planning, execution, training, information management, and innovation; enhance intelligence and information sharing and fusion.”

In order to better achieve these objectives, “The Commands shall develop and share comprehensive, situational awareness and a common operating picture, and must strive to interact seamlessly with each other and with our respective civil authorities, non-governmental organizations and other mission partners.” The Tri-Command is part of efforts to merge both countries, security and military priorities under the umbrella of a single, U.S.-dominated North American Command.

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