US Senate Hearing: “Protecting U.S. Sovereignty: Coast Guard Operations in the Arctic”

by Alicia Cerretani

Last week, while looking at the daily schedule of events and hearings held in congress, a senate hearing called “Protecting U.S. Sovereignty: Coast Guard Operations in the Arctic,” held by the Senate subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation caught our attention. The hearing was scheduled almost exactly one week after Sky Shields had reported on the fascinating prospects for Arctic development on the Weekly Report with Lyndon LaRouche, highlighting the Russian proposal to build an Arctic city modeled off of the ISS and the recent proposal by a team in Ireland to develop Ireland’s newly granted Arctic territory thanks to the 2011 Law of the Seas agreement. But what made the hearing particularly, strategically interesting, is that at the same time all eyes are focused on the Mediterranean, watching to see what hour and in which aggravated region a third world war is going to break out that could very well engulf the entire planet, big moves are being made by the Russians, the Chinese and a handful of other Scandinavian nations to begin turning the Arctic into a new global hub of commerce, transportation and scientific exploration.

The hearing opened up with a sharp statement from Washington state Rep. Rick Larsen who, characterized the frustration that would be thematic throughout the proceedings. He said, “I may not know the precise definition of the word, “irony”, but scheduling a hearing to discuss Coast Guard capabilities in the Arctic less than three weeks after the House passed legislation that would decommission the Coast Guard’s two heavy icebreakers, sure seems ironic to me.”

But what became clear, almost immediately, is the fact that the United States just decommissioned it’s only two ice breakers, the Polar Star and the Polar Sea, is more than ironic, it’s a huge vulnerability for the entire nation.

The first two panelists were Admiral Robert J. Papp, Commandant for the U.S. Coast Guard and the Honorable Mead Treadwell, Lt. Governor Alaska. Admiral Papp kept returning to the point that the Coast Guard’s abiltiy to fulfill its duties in the Arctic are impossible with out ice breaking capabilities. Citing the advancements made by Russia, who is doubling their ice breaker fleet, China, and Denmark, the Admiral made it clear that it wasn’t a matter of technological impossibility to expand our presence in the Arctic, but a question of priority and now that much of the Arctic ice is melting and trading routes are opening up, the U.S. is falling way behind.

Admiral Papp with Obama and Secretary Napolitano

To this, congressman Don Young, of Alaska, who in principle agrees that the Arctic is the future of this nation (that is actually a direct quote from his opening remarks), instead began grilling the Admiral about the Coast Guard’s spending habits and got into a back and forth that wasn’t going to go any where and didn’t go any where as to whether or not the Coast Guard out to forget about the Federal Government backing it up with critical infrastructure like ice breakers, and instead consider leasing a vessel produced by somebody else. (Russia?)

This scenario immediately triggered, simultaneously in my mind and Meghan’s, the memory of the polar orbiting satellite hearing the two of us attended two weeks ago in the senate. Here you have a President, specifically profiled by his clinical insanity, who is being used like a prostitute by foreign interests (read British interests) to run the greatest bailout swindle in U.S. history to “save” the private banks, all in the name of averting a catastrophe mind you, which is actively bankrupting our states, cities, and strategic capabilities like satellite operations and our U.S. Coast Guard.

The second panelist was Lt. Governor of Alaska, Mead Treadwell. His testimony was excellent. Treadwell recently attended a meeting hosted by Russian VP Putin in Arkhangelsk, Russia called a meeting of the “Arctic Hands,” in September.

Treadwell in Arkhangelsk, Russia

He opened by making a list of demands, beginning with the immediate deployment of US icebreakers in the Arctic and cited Franklin Roosevelt’s 1936 Executive Order 7521 which, “directs the Coast Guard, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury and with the cooperation of the Secretaries of War (Army), the Navy, and Commerce, to keep channels and harbors open to navigation by means of icebreaking operations.” That order, Treadwell reminded the subcommittee, has never been implemented in the Arctic.

Treadwell also pointed out that, while the United States is one of eight Arctic nations, we are just one of two that have territory adjoining the Bering Strait, which he referred to as the “Bering Gate,” as this is the only route from the Pacific to the Arctic. See Leandra Bernstein’s post, “A Historical Anecdote of How to Say "Screw the British" in Russian” for why it is the United States who is one of those two nations, and not the British commonwealth of Canada.

The full proceedings can be found here, including the full testimony of Admiral Papp and Lt. Governor Treadwell, the remarks of the congressmen and the second panel which featured short testimony from Rear Admiral Jeffery Garrett (ret.), David Whitcomb, Vice President for Production Support of Vigor Industries, Stephen Caldwell, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues GAO and Ms. Kelly Falkner, Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs.

I don’t think it is because we recently decommissioned our two icebreakers that nobody broke the ice on Obama during the hearing proceedings. However, outside the hearing room, in between panels, where it appeared that most of the business was actually being conducted, the leading panelists were clear, the United States must move quickly to establish a meaningful presence in the Arctic in collaboration with the Russians and Chinese and other nations who are making serious head way up there and do it quickly to off set the contrived and deadly tension being fomented by Obama between the major powers of the planet.

As we have reported on this site in depth, the development of the Arctic for trade, as a fresh supply of raw materials, and scientific exploration is an incredible, new flank to the current deadly geo-political nightmare that the British have created as their Trans-Atlantic system dies. We will continue to investigate and keep on top of whatever developments occur. Do reply to this blog with more if you have something that is not included.

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The international angle of accomplishing a new, global development perspective characterized by Glass-Steagall and NAWAPA will be fostered through a close partnership between the United States, Russia, and China. This page is a continuing exploration of the potentials of that arrangement.