In the past few years, the United States has been launching new advances in its military for both itself, its allies, and military equipment partners across the globe. With the 2nd decade of the 21st century rolling in, it can only mean the potential news of a new generation of technology that is to likely be used for the military first before it can end up in the hands of civilians. Such technological trends can be seen as far back as World War One with the introduction of faster cars and common usage of telephones or in World War Two with extensive radio frequency ranges and early calculating machines and computers. Ultimately, the year of 2020 for any military advancements to introduce the new decade was minuscule, likely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, yet despite this, the United States still put forth and has pushed for military expansion with Donald Trump releasing the plan to purchase 10 new frigates for the US Navy (Osborn).
Though as 2020 comes to a close, the few amounts of advances have felt a bit unsettling in the fact that there is always something new being created such as in 2019 when we saw the completion of the Gerald R. Ford Class Aircraft Carrier (US Department of Defense). Though in their wake, it does seem like the United States has taken a turn, likely for the worse. Recently, with the continuation of the ice caps melting in the North Pole, the potential travel through the once thought of to be an impassable corridor to be possible in the coming few decades and as soon as the next decade.
In a report by the Seattle Times back in 2015, the Russian Federation had a total of some 40 icebreaker vessels, China building several to be commissioned by 2016, and Canada and the Scandinavian countries far outnumbering the US Coast Guard icebreaker fleet, the USCGC Polar Star and the USCGC Polar Sea with the USCGC Polar Sea said to already have gone out of service and the USCGC Polar Star supposedly hitting its maximum service span as of this year, 2020 (Seattle Times).
But what would this mean for American naval power? Greenhouse gasses and emissions aside, the lack of any major US commitment to arctic exploration and patrol can give a chance to both the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China the ability to reign somewhat freely in Arctic waters unless there can be either an American or coalition front of NATO within the Arctic corridor as it will eventually become a security threat that must be acknowledged for the continual safety of American democracy and the democracies within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization such as Canada, Iceland, Denmark (more so its homeruled state of Greenland), and Norway.
For Western democracy to continue to be protected from America’s currently natural rivals of Russia and China in the modern world, the United States must be able to step up and commit to plans that it will conduct on its own or conducted together with NATO. The most recent of which was the “Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014”, which has given details on the update of the US Coast Guard (United States Congress). These include Section 101 of Title 1, giving $6,981,036,000 in funding to the US Coast Guard’s operation and maintenance and an additional $1,546,448,000 in funding reserves (United States Congress). These funds are to then be put into use to expand the present US Coast Guard’s icebreaker fleet and maintenance of its current vessels and a strategy to be laid out. This strategy layout plan is said to be required enough for the continuation of icebreaking services until the 30th of September, 2024 and then the creation of a strategy for icebreaking that is able to be applied up to the 30th of September, 2050 (United States Congress). If the United States is able to reform its icebreaker fleet, then it may have a chance against the fleets of Russia and China with the support of Canada, Norway, and Greenland in any future operations. But if democracy is able to continue, the United States cannot become content with its place now and must keep improving its military, but it must be kept in mind that the need for an ever improving military cannot be an excuse to allow other areas of society and the systems of democracy to fall into states of decay and decline or else the purpose of the military to defend the ever changing and ever improving democracy we live in right now will have no purpose.
Osborn Kris. “Navy builds 10 new heavily armed frigate warships”, US Navy, 29 May, 2020, foxnews.com/tech/navy-heavily-armed-frigate-warships . Accessed 10 Dec. 2020
Seattle Times. “U.S. icebreaker fleet is falling behind; needed for strategic Arctic” Editorials, 21 May 2015, seattletimes.com/opinion/editorials/us-icebreaker-fleet-is-falling-behind-needed-for-strategic-arctic/ . Accessed 10 Dec. 2020
United States, Congress. HOWARD COBLE COAST GUARD AND MARITIME TRANSPORTATION ACT OF 2014, Government Printing Office, 2014. Accessed 10 Dec. 2020
United States, Department of Defense. New Gerald R. Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier John F. Kennedy to be Christened Dec. 7, Government Printing Office, 2019. Accessed 10 Dec. 2020