The Navy sends a carrier back to Russia’s Arctic haunts for the first time since 1991
The U.S. Navy has sent an aircraft carrier into the Norwegian Sea in the arctic circle, the first time since 1991, as part of a NATO exercise. The change is due both to the expanding accessibility of areas once covered by ice and the increased Russian activity and the area that is of great geo-strategic importance. This area, known as the “GIUK Gap” (the waters around Greenland, Iceland, and the UK) are essential transit routes for US warships heading to Europe and for Russian submarines entering the North Atlantic. More than a show of force, however, a senior official at the Lexington Institute argued that the exercise is also about familiarizing a new generation of sailors with what could be an important future battlefield. “I’d wager that the carrier strike group command has never participated in this kind of exercise in that area…it’s not just about training for this kind of warfare but specifically training the location that we may have to fight…so you are going to see more large-scale training in the Mediterranean, training in the Arctic and training in the Western Pacific.” Russian submarine activity has already drastically increased in the area to a level that one U.S. admiral has said would have been unprecedented only five years ago.