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Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic

LoboCanada

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WHY NATO NEEDS A STANDING MARITIME GROUP IN THE ARCTIC

Center for International Maritime Security

http://cimsec.org/why-nato-needs-a-standing-maritime-group-in-the-arctic/43617

Since the Cold War, the U.S. has maintained a steady presence in the Arctic%u2014specifically the European Arctic, or High North%u2014primarily through nuclear submarine deployments while relying on NATO allies in the region for logistical support. However, melting ice caps, an increase in commercial maritime activity, and ongoing territorial disputes necessitate stronger NATO cooperation in the region to achieve a deterrence posture against Russia and safeguard maritime security. Deterring Russian aggression is important in all European bodies of water, and the Arctic will increasingly face the same maritime security issues as other parts of the world, including illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing by China and the movement of migrants and refugees by sea.

Similar to Russia, NATO needs to improve its capability and capacity to operate on the Arctic front. In order to deter the Russian threat and safeguard maritime security, sustained presence in the region is needed. To this end, NATO should create a new standing maritime group dedicated to the Arctic and separate from the maritime groups focused elsewhere.

Thoughts?

AOPS coordinating with a small group of 2-3 icebreakers in NATO around the Arctic Circle? Group in some training with aircraft from Thule, some raiding/deploying from attached helicopters and the like. 

 

MilEME09

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We would need a naval base closer then halifax to the arctic in order to facilitate such a naval group, Churchill comes to mind. If we host a permanent standing naval task force of the alliance, they may be willing to chip in to cover some of the infrastructure costs.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Churchill would be good for training, but not really great geographically, needs to be a bit further north.
 

MarkOttawa

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What the article is really about is the Euro NATO Arctic, not the North American.

Mark
Ottawa
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Colin P said:
Churchill would be good for training, but not really great geographically, needs to be a bit further north.

It would be a gigantic waste of money and is a Militarily irrelevant location.  If Canada wants to dominate its Arctic Archipelago, the natural place to do so would be from the Davis Strait.  It's the natural choke point in the area and what goes in must come out there.

If Canada were to ever get serious about Militarizing the Arctic, the natural location is Iqaluit.  The Federal Government has already committed to building a Deep Water Port there and work is ongoing:

65674federal_liberal_government_confirms_funding_for_iqaluit_deepwater_port


https://www.dredgingtoday.com/2019/05/28/works-to-continue-on-iqaluit-deepwater-port/

Likewise, the Airport in Iqaluit could be greatly expanded to house RCAF assets, in the form of MPAs, etc.

I would also shift the entirety of our Submarine Force to the East Coast.  I don't see any real military benefit to keeping the Vic Class on the West Coast anyways.  They would be better used as a NATO asset, would be vital in protecting SLOC in the North Atlantic if War with Russia ever broke out. 

If war did break out with Russia it's pretty clear to me that the Canadian Arctic is a weakness in any sort of Defence against Russian Submarine raids.  GIUK Gap is the primary Naval Focus but Russia has beefed up their Arctic Capabilities again in recent years and their Submarine Force is highly capable.  Imagine a surprise insertion through the Canadian Arctic could pose some serious problems.  The threat wouldn't even have to be Nuclear Weapons.

Lets say the conflict did break out with Russia.  A submarine armed with Precision Guided Cruise Missiles could punch in to Canadian Waters and could launch Cruise Missiles against Hydroelectric Facilities in Northern Quebec and cripple the electricity grid on the East Coast. 

Of course we could say that the US most likely has Nuclear Submarines already patrolling those waters but would they necessarily be available or would they be reallocated somewhere else for higher priority tasks like lets say China takes advantage of the situation and decides to stir up trouble in Asia?

It would be a bold move 
 

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Humphrey Bogart said:
It would be a gigantic waste of money and is a Militarily irrelevant location.  If Canada wants to dominate its Arctic Archipelago, the natural place to do so would be from the Davis Strait.  It's the natural choke point in the area and what goes in must come out there.

If Canada were to ever get serious about Militarizing the Arctic, the natural location is Iqaluit.  The Federal Government has already committed to building a Deep Water Port there and work is ongoing:

65674federal_liberal_government_confirms_funding_for_iqaluit_deepwater_port


https://www.dredgingtoday.com/2019/05/28/works-to-continue-on-iqaluit-deepwater-port/

Likewise, the Airport in Iqaluit could be greatly expanded to house RCAF assets, in the form of MPAs, etc.

I would also shift the entirety of our Submarine Force to the East Coast.  I don't see any real military benefit to keeping the Vic Class on the West Coast anyways.  They would be better used as a NATO asset, would be vital in protecting SLOC in the North Atlantic if War with Russia ever broke out. 

If war did break out with Russia it's pretty clear to me that the Canadian Arctic is a weakness in any sort of Defence against Russian Submarine raids.  GIUK Gap is the primary Naval Focus but Russia has beefed up their Arctic Capabilities again in recent years and their Submarine Force is highly capable.  Imagine a surprise insertion through the Canadian Arctic could pose some serious problems.  The threat wouldn't even have to be Nuclear Weapons.

Lets say the conflict did break out with Russia.  A submarine armed with Precision Guided Cruise Missiles could punch in to Canadian Waters and could launch Cruise Missiles against Hydroelectric Facilities in Northern Quebec and cripple the electricity grid on the East Coast. 

Of course we could say that the US most likely has Nuclear Submarines already patrolling those waters but would they necessarily be available or would they be reallocated somewhere else for higher priority tasks like lets say China takes advantage of the situation and decides to stir up trouble in Asia?

It would be a bold move

I agree but it wouldn't even have to be under NATO. A standing squadron with US, CAN, DMK, NO would be the way to go. We already exercise in the Arctic with these nations currently, this would be a logical step. Expand the port infrastructure at Iqaluit and expand the fueling facilities at Nanisivik to support the fleet.
 

MilEME09

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Chief Engineer said:
I agree but it wouldn't even have to be under NATO. A standing squadron with US, CAN, DMK, NO would be the way to go. We already exercise in the Arctic with these nations currently, this would be a logical step. Expand the port infrastructure at Iqaluit and expand the fueling facilities at Nanisivik to support the fleet.

Sounds like more AOPS for a new RCN Northern Fleet are needed, and armed heavy ice breakers for the coast guard.
 

YZT580

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MilEME09 said:
Sounds like more AOPS for a new RCN Northern Fleet are needed, and armed heavy ice breakers for the coast guard.
  Squadron of P8's would do it. Surface fleet action isn't likely and aircraft can be intercepted by aircraft based a lot further south.  The AOPS might come in useful if they were set up for submarine warfare in team with Aurora.  Basing the CP140 in the north means more time on station and significantly reduces time on the airframe.  I doubt if any invasion will occur in the winter months with the ice cover just too extensive and thick to allow for reliable planning so aircraft could be deployed seasonally or rotated through to keep crews from finding other jobs.
 

GR66

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Humphrey Bogart said:
...

I would also shift the entirety of our Submarine Force to the East Coast.  I don't see any real military benefit to keeping the Vic Class on the West Coast anyways.  They would be better used as a NATO asset, would be vital in protecting SLOC in the North Atlantic if War with Russia ever broke out. 

...

Are you sure that war with Russia is more likely than with China?  NATO/Western Europe has a much larger population, combined military and economy than Russia.  The Russian economy is also highly dependant on energy exports to their "enemy" in the west.  Russia's military is much smaller than during the Cold War, and even ignoring the West's nuclear deterrence, Russia simply doesn't have the manpower to take and occupy all of NATO.  It's simply too large and populous.  Russia can't defeat the whole of NATO without WMD's and would cause their own destruction if they went nuclear. 

China on the other hand is the world's most populous nation with the world's 2nd largest economy.  Its likely military targets (Taiwan, rocks off their coast, North Korea in the case of a collapse, etc.) are much more limited and achievable compared to what Russia would have to take on.  The most effective Western response to any Chinese aggression would also likely be with naval and air forces (including subs). 

I'd suggest that the West coast might be a very important place to base at least half of our subs.

:2c:

Edited to add:  Not in any way suggesting that we should NOT beef up our Atlantic and Arctic presence.  In my perfect world we'd increase the size of our MPA, surface and sub-surface fleets so that we could meet any possible threats on all three coasts.  Just questioning the logic of shifting all of our subs to the East coast when the argument could be made that there could be serious Chinese threats that subs would be very useful against.
 

Sub_Guy

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YZT580 said:
Basing the CP140 in the north means more time on station and significantly reduces time on the airframe.  I doubt if any invasion will occur in the winter months with the ice cover just too extensive and thick to allow for reliable planning so aircraft could be deployed seasonally or rotated through to keep crews from finding other jobs.

I’ve always thought that the east coast CP-140 fleet should be based in Goose Bay. 
 

dimsum

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Dolphin_Hunter said:
I’ve always thought that the east coast CP-140 fleet should be based in Goose Bay.

Why GB over Gander or St. John's?  Infrastructure (airport, obviously not town) or location?
 

Sub_Guy

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Dimsum said:
Why GB over Gander or St. John's?  Infrastructure (airport, obviously not town) or location?

Infrastructure and location.  The town isn’t much, although I have heard great things about Goose Bay from the folks who have been posted there... 

I could be off, but it seems like a decent staging point for arctic surveillance.
 

lenaitch

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Three questions, mostly from a perspective of general ignorance:

1. Show of hands for those willing to move themselves and families to Iqaluit?  Enough for a flying wing /naval base?  Even is on a rotational basis, would that mean an entire base staffing constantly rotating, and can current staffing handle the constant contribution? Sure, Alert does it but that's what, ~60 members (no families).  I understand one of the current recruitment and retention challenges is some of the locations members have to reside.

2.  Can AOPS actually be considered warships?

3.  How do you arm a civilian icebreaker?
 

Eye In The Sky

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MilEME09 said:
Sounds like more AOPS for a new RCN Northern Fleet are needed, and armed heavy ice breakers for the coast guard.

AOPS = waste of money for what is being discussed.  It would be a sitting duck target for the RFN SSNs if they decided to come in that way.

A real deterrent for that Arctic for us must include an expanded MPA fleet and nuclear subs. 

Deep water arctic ports;  given the conditions up there at least part of the year, would you invest in the infrastructure, costs, maint of permanent installations for blue water navy assets, or would you run then until the ice is too thick and support them with oilers?
 

Eye In The Sky

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lenaitch said:
Three questions, mostly from a perspective of general ignorance:

1. Show of hands for those willing to move themselves and families to Iqaluit?  Enough for a flying wing /naval base?  Even is on a rotational basis, would that mean an entire base staffing constantly rotating, and can current staffing handle the constant contribution? Sure, Alert does it but that's what, ~60 members (no families).  I understand one of the current recruitment and retention challenges is some of the locations members have to reside.

Make it standing Detachment; rotate crews thru (RCAF can't rotate Sqn's thru, not with the numbers we have).  90 day 'deployments', or longer if that works.  Have 'base staff' in longer, like Alert times or something, or postings like JTFN (there are long term posting to FroBay for a small number of people).

I am sure Iqaluit would like the financial benefits, I am curious what they would think of the cultural impact/changes and the changes that would happen just with the influx of service members.  Having done LRP Ops more than once out of FroBay, I am not sure what I'd think of a 3 year posting there...
 

daftandbarmy

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Like other successful colonization efforts implemented through the ages, we should promote a business (specifically mining sector) led approach to sovereignty consolidation and expansion.

It looks like Denmark is already pointing at us as a good example and, as an 'Arctic Colleague', doing business together might be a better way forward than just swapping flags on Hans Island, etc:

Arctic Business Opportunities in Canada

Canada has escalated the development of the country's Arctic territories. Large and small infrastructure investments and specifically mining investments are currently taking place or being planned for. Danish companies with export experience to, for example, Greenland and the northern parts of Sweden, as well as Norway and Russia should take a closer look at Canada.

Canada is a country rich in natural resources, but the residual life of the existing fields and mines are getting shorter and shorter. Canadians are aware of the challenge, and one of the strategies is to explore and develop the northern and Arctic regions of the country's vast land mass, which is the world's second largest.

As an example, the province of Quebec announced that they will invest $ 80 billion (456 billion DKK) in the province's Arctic area over the next 20-25 years. The focus is on infrastructure and industrial development. Specific areas of business development include energy, mining, forestry, hunting, tourism and food.

Quebec is not the only Canadian province focusing on the Arctic. Other provinces do the same and most recently the federal government has announced that the military presence in the Arctic must be strengthened with a series of new northern military camps and bases. Furthermore the government wants to annually conduct major military exercises in the Arctic.

The largest Arctic industry is undoubtedly the mining industry. Canada is the world's largest mining nation. 980 mines are established in the country, many of them in the Arctic. It is important to note that Canada currently is the country in the world where the largest mining exploration and major mining investments are made. It is expected that about $ 140 billion are to be invested in the mining sector over the next 5 years – that is equivalent to 750 billion Danish kroner!

Why the Arctic?

One of the major challenges for the Canadian operations in the Arctic is a shortage of qualified manpower and the need for innovative and sustainable solutions. Many Danish companies have strong qualifications in the Arctic region and have with tailored products suited for Arctic climate (and the rest of the winter cold Canada). Danish companies with solutions from Camp Supply, logistics (inventory management, coding, tracking, IT systems etc.), energy supply, wastewater management and other entrepreneurial construction projects, etc. should therefore as a very minimum consider exploring the options in the Canadian market.

According to the U.S. investment firm Guggenheim Partners, the Arctic will require close to US$1-trillion of infrastructure investment over the next decade, including transportation, telecommunications and social services to support a new era of economic opportunity from energy, fishing and mining, to defence and tourism.

With fewer than one million residents, the North American Arctic has no choice but to seek outside capital and capacities for its enormous strategic and economic opportunities.

The $180+ billion Investing in Canada plan is supporting over 250 projects in Arctic Canada over the next 10 years in areas like infrastructure, community housing and utility infrastructure

The Trade Council sees a window for developing business relations and facilitate contact between Arctic Canada and The Kingdom of Denmark. This is the reason why we have taken the initiative to build an Arctic Infrastructure Alliance that can utilize on the Trade Council's experiences and network in Canada connected with solutions from Danish companies that match Actic challenges.

Read more about the initiative here: http://canada.um.dk/en/the-trade-council/canada-as-market/current-growth-markets/arctic-business-opportunities/arctic-infrastructure-alliance/
 

Colin Parkinson

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Whoever wrote that is blowing smoke up our arse. Compared to other Arctic nations our communities have been starved of resources, infrastructure and support. We are only doing the bare minimum required. 
 

Stoker

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lenaitch said:
Three questions, mostly from a perspective of general ignorance:

1. Show of hands for those willing to move themselves and families to Iqaluit?  Enough for a flying wing /naval base?  Even is on a rotational basis, would that mean an entire base staffing constantly rotating, and can current staffing handle the constant contribution? Sure, Alert does it but that's what, ~60 members (no families).  I understand one of the current recruitment and retention challenges is some of the locations members have to reside.

2.  Can AOPS actually be considered warships?

3.  How do you arm a civilian icebreaker?


1. Iqaluit is not that bad, but a major influx of cash to build base housing and such is required.

2, AOPS are not warships, the RCN never claimed them to be however will be extremely useful in the Arctic and elsewhere.

3. You can't as far as I know. The CCG is a civilian organization. Now taking an existing ice breaker and arming it and manning it with RCN is possible.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Arming the CCG can be done by a stroke of a pen, about 8 years ago we sat down and on a napkin figured about $50,000 to put two .50cal onto a large ice breaker/bouytender. Including shield, mount, comms, ammunition and weapons lockers. Training the crews to maintain, service and shoot those would be easy. The intial training could be done by a roving military instruction team, within the CCG crew rotation and work schedule, so year cost to maintain proficiency is pretty much just ammo and some extra fuel to get to the various ranges or open water.

The real challenge is creating the ROE's and changing the mindsets of the senior Captains and senior management so they would be willing to give the command to use them if the circumstance warranted it.

The other big challenge is boarding parties, the majority of the crews do not have an interest, mindset or training to do that type of work. Most seaman on a buoytender are a mix of construction worker/sailor types. So the role of Boarding party would still likely be RCMP, military or Fish Cops. The role of the HMG is to ensure that the other vessel stops and allows itself to be boarded and does try anything as the boarding party approaches.

The above could literally be fitted into the current mandate of CCG now. If you wanted to arm them closer to the USCG model, then that "stroke of the pen" is needed, changing the role and mandate at the top, along with significant amounts of money to convert ships and training budgets.

Personally I think the big ships should go the HMG route, this gives the government a whole lot more enforcement teeth on both coasts and the Arctic with very little outlay of money, legislation changes and mindset changes. It would also lay out the groundwork for any further increases in the enforcement role in the future. 
 

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Colin P said:
Arming the CCG can be done by a stroke of a pen, about 8 years ago we sat down and on a napkin figured about $50,000 to put two .50cal onto a large ice breaker/bouytender. Including shield, mount, comms, ammunition and weapons lockers. Training the crews to maintain, service and shoot those would be easy. The intial training could be done by a roving military instruction team, within the CCG crew rotation and work schedule, so year cost to maintain proficiency is pretty much just ammo and some extra fuel to get to the various ranges or open water.

The real challenge is creating the ROE's and changing the mindsets of the senior Captains and senior management so they would be willing to give the command to use them if the circumstance warranted it.

The other big challenge is boarding parties, the majority of the crews do not have an interest, mindset or training to do that type of work. Most seaman on a buoytender are a mix of construction worker/sailor types. So the role of Boarding party would still likely be RCMP, military or Fish Cops. The role of the HMG is to ensure that the other vessel stops and allows itself to be boarded and does try anything as the boarding party approaches.

The above could literally be fitted into the current mandate of CCG now. If you wanted to arm them closer to the USCG model, then that "stroke of the pen" is needed, changing the role and mandate at the top, along with significant amounts of money to convert ships and training budgets.

Personally I think the big ships should go the HMG route, this gives the government a whole lot more enforcement teeth on both coasts and the Arctic with very little outlay of money, legislation changes and mindset changes. It would also lay out the groundwork for any further increases in the enforcement role in the future. 
Colin P said:
Arming the CCG can be done by a stroke of a pen, about 8 years ago we sat down and on a napkin figured about $50,000 to put two .50cal onto a large ice breaker/bouytender. Including shield, mount, comms, ammunition and weapons lockers. Training the crews to maintain, service and shoot those would be easy. The intial training could be done by a roving military instruction team, within the CCG crew rotation and work schedule, so year cost to maintain proficiency is pretty much just ammo and some extra fuel to get to the various ranges or open water.

The real challenge is creating the ROE's and changing the mindsets of the senior Captains and senior management so they would be willing to give the command to use them if the circumstance warranted it.

The other big challenge is boarding parties, the majority of the crews do not have an interest, mindset or training to do that type of work. Most seaman on a buoytender are a mix of construction worker/sailor types. So the role of Boarding party would still likely be RCMP, military or Fish Cops. The role of the HMG is to ensure that the other vessel stops and allows itself to be boarded and does try anything as the boarding party approaches.

The above could literally be fitted into the current mandate of CCG now. If you wanted to arm them closer to the USCG model, then that "stroke of the pen" is needed, changing the role and mandate at the top, along with significant amounts of money to convert ships and training budgets.

Personally I think the big ships should go the HMG route, this gives the government a whole lot more enforcement teeth on both coasts and the Arctic with very little outlay of money, legislation changes and mindset changes. It would also lay out the groundwork for any further increases in the enforcement role in the future.

There's a few obstacles to your plan. Firstly the unions would never go for it, not to mention I would bet a significant portion of the crews themselves are not going to want anything to do with that type of work. The second is the current government and their attitudes and third a significant portion of the general public would raise hell. So yes more than likely a stroke of the pen could but it will never happen in my estimation.
 
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