oversight

Arctic Capabilities: DOD Addressed Many Specified Reporting Elements in Its 2011 Arctic Report but Should Take Steps to Meet Near- and Long-term Needs

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-01-13.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States Government Accountability Office

GAO            Report to Congressional Committees




January 2012
               ARCTIC
               CAPABILITIES
               DOD Addressed Many
               Specified Reporting
               Elements in Its 2011
               Arctic Report but
               Should Take Steps to
               Meet Near- and Long-
               term Needs




GAO-12-180
                                              January 2012

                                              ARCTIC CAPABILITIES
                                              DOD Addressed Many Specified Reporting Elements
                                              in Its 2011 Arctic Report but Should Take Steps to
                                              Meet Near- and Long-term Needs
Highlights of GAO-12-180, a report to
congressional committees




Why GAO Did This Study                        What GAO Found
The gradual retreat of polar sea ice,         DOD’s Arctic Report, submitted May 31, 2011, addressed three and partially
combined with an expected increase in         addressed two of the elements specified in the House Report, as shown in the
human activity––shipping traffic, oil         table below.
and gas exploration, and tourism in the
Arctic region––could eventually               Extent to Which DOD’s Arctic Report Addressed the Five Specified Reporting Elements
increase the need for a U.S. military           Specified reporting element                            GAO assessment
and homeland security presence in the           An assessment of the strategic national security       Addressed
Arctic. As a result, the Department of          objectives and restrictions in the Arctic region.
                                                An assessment on mission capabilities required         Partially addressed (does not include a timeline
Defense (DOD) must begin preparing
                                                to support the strategic national security             for obtaining needed capabilities)
to access, operate, and protect                 objectives and a timeline to obtain such
national interests there. House Report          capabilities.
111-491 directed DOD to prepare a               An assessment of an amended unified                    Addressed
report on Arctic Operations and the             command plan that addresses opportunities of
Northwest Passage, and specified five           obtaining continuity of effort in the Arctic Ocean
                                                by a single combatant commander.
reporting elements that should be               An assessment of the basing infrastructure             Addressed
addressed. House Report 112-78                  required to support Arctic strategic objectives,
directed GAO to review DOD’s report.            including the need for a deep-water port in the
GAO assessed the extent to which 1)             Arctic.
DOD’s Report to Congress on Arctic              An assessment of the status of and need for            Partially addressed (does not include an
Operations and the Northwest                    icebreakers to determine whether icebreakers           assessment of the minimum and optimal number
                                                provide important or required mission                  of icebreakers)
Passage (Arctic Report) addressed the           capabilities to support Arctic strategic national
specified reporting elements and 2)             security objectives, and an assessment of the
DOD has efforts under way to identify           minimum and optimal number of icebreakers
and prioritize the capabilities needed to       that may be needed.
meet national security objectives in the      Source: GAO analysis of DOD’s Arctic Report.
Arctic. GAO analyzed DOD’s Arctic
Report and related documents and
interviewed DOD and U.S. Coast                While DOD has undertaken some efforts to assess the capabilities needed to
Guard officials.                              meet national security objectives in the Arctic, it is unclear whether DOD will be
                                              in a position to provide needed capabilities in a timely and efficient manner
What GAO Recommends                           because it lacks a risk-based investment strategy for addressing near-term
GAO recommends that DOD develop a             needs and a collaborative forum with the Coast Guard for addressing long-term
risk-based investment strategy and            capability needs. DOD’s Arctic Report acknowledges that it has some near-term
timeline for developing Arctic                gaps in key capabilities needed to communicate, navigate, and maintain
capabilities needed in the near-term;         awareness of activity in the region. However, DOD has not yet evaluated,
and establish a forum with the Coast          selected, or implemented alternatives for prioritizing and addressing near-term
Guard to identify collaborative Arctic        Arctic capability needs. In addition, DOD and the Coast Guard have established
capability investments over the long-         a working group to identify potential collaborative efforts to enhance U.S. Arctic
term. DOD and the Department of               capabilities. This working group is focused on identifying potential near-term
Homeland Security generally agreed            investments but not longer-term needs, and it is currently expected to be
with GAO’s recommendations.                   dissolved in January 2012. Uncertainty involving the rate of Arctic climate change
                                              necessitates careful planning to ensure efficient use of resources in developing
                                              Arctic needs such as basing infrastructure and icebreakers, which require long
                                              lead times to develop and are expensive to build and maintain. Without taking
                                              steps to meet near- and long-term Arctic capability needs, DOD risks making
                                              premature Arctic investments, being late in obtaining needed capabilities, or
View GAO-12-180. For more information,        missing opportunities to minimize costs by collaborating on investments with the
contact John Pendleton at (202) 512-3489 or   Coast Guard.
pendletonj@gao.gov.

                                                                                                     United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                       1
                Background                                                                   4
                DOD’s Arctic Report Addressed or Partially Addressed All Five
                  Specified Reporting Elements                                             10
                DOD Has Identified Arctic Capability Gaps, but Lacks a
                  Comprehensive Approach to Addressing Arctic Capabilities                 12
                Conclusions                                                                17
                Recommendations for Executive Action                                       18
                Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                         18

Appendix I      Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                         22



Appendix II     Extent to which DOD’s Arctic Report Addressed Specified Reporting
                Elements                                                                   24



Appendix III    Change in Summer Minimum Ice Extent from 2001 to 2011, Compared
                with the 1979 to 2000 Median Minimum Ice Extent                 29



Appendix IV     Policy Guidance on the Arctic Identified in DOD’s Arctic Report            32



Appendix V      Arctic Responsibilities under the Unified Command Plan: 2008
                and 2011                                                                   33



Appendix VI     Comments from the Department of Defense                                    34



Appendix VII    Comments from the Department of Homeland Security                          37



Appendix VIII   GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                      39




                Page i                                           GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Related GAO Products                                                                                             40



Figures
                       Figure 1: Change in Summer Minimum Ice Extent from 2001 to
                                2011, Compared with the 1979 to 2000 Median Minimum
                                Ice Extent                                                                       5
                       Figure 2: DOD Facilities and Coast Guard Assets in the Arctic and
                                Alaska                                                                           8
                       Figure 3: GAO Assessment of the Extent to Which DOD’s Arctic
                                Report Addressed the Five Specified Reporting Elements                           11




                       Abbreviations

                       DHS               Department of Homeland Security
                       DOD               Department of Defense




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                       Page ii                                                     GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   January 13, 2012

                                   Congressional Committees

                                   The gradual retreat of polar sea ice in the Arctic region, combined with an
                                   expected increase in human activity—shipping traffic, oil and gas
                                   exploration, and tourism—could eventually increase the need for a U.S.
                                   military and homeland security presence in the Arctic. 1 In recognition of
                                   increasing strategic interest in the Arctic, the United States has developed
                                   national level policies that guide the actions of the Department of Defense
                                   (DOD), the U.S. Coast Guard, and other stakeholders in the region.
                                   These policies indicate that the United States has an enduring interest in
                                   working collaboratively with other nations to address the emerging
                                   challenges arising from the impacts of climate change and globalization in
                                   the Arctic, and they identify Arctic national security needs including
                                   protecting the environment, managing resources, and supporting
                                   scientific research. 2

                                   Over the years, we have completed a number of reviews related to the
                                   challenges of developing capabilities for operating in the Arctic. For
                                   example, we have reported on the difficulties DOD and other agencies
                                   face in achieving maritime domain awareness. 3 We testified on the
                                   challenges of translating climate data into information that officials need
                                   to make decisions. 4 We also reported on the Coast Guard’s coordination


                                   1
                                    The DOD Report to Congress on Arctic Operations and the Northwest Passage defines
                                   the Arctic as the region that encompasses all U.S. and foreign territory north of the Arctic
                                   Circle, all U.S. territory north and west of the boundary formed by the Porcupine, Yukon,
                                   and Kiskokwim Rivers, and all contiguous seas and straits north of and adjacent to the
                                   Arctic Circle. According to the report, this definition is consistent with the Arctic Research
                                   and Policy Act of 1984 (15 U.S.C. §4111) and Arctic Council usage.
                                   2
                                    National Security Presidential Directive 66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25,
                                   Arctic Region Policy (Jan. 9, 2009); National Security Strategy (Washington, D.C.: May
                                   2010).
                                   3
                                    GAO, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: DOD Needs a Strategic, Risk-
                                   Based Approach to Enhance Its Maritime Domain Awareness, GAO-11-621 (Washington,
                                   D.C.: June 20, 2011). According to DOD’s Arctic Report, maritime domain awareness
                                   refers to the effective understanding of anything associated with maritime activity that
                                   could affect the security, safety, economy, or environment of the United States.
                                   4
                                    GAO, Climate Change Adaptation: Federal Efforts to Provide Information Could Help
                                   Government Decision Making, GAO-12-238T (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 16, 2011).




                                   Page 1                                                         GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
with stakeholders on Arctic policy and efforts to identify Arctic
requirements and capability gaps. 5 A list of these related products is
included at the end of this report.

In light of continuing concerns, the House Armed Services Committee
directed DOD to provide a report to the congressional defense
committees on its Arctic operations in the House Report accompanying a
proposed bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
2011 (H.R. 5136). 6 Specifically, DOD was directed to address five
elements in the report, including an assessment of (1) the strategic
national security objectives and restrictions in the Arctic region; (2)
mission capabilities required to support the strategic national security
objectives and a timeline to obtain such capabilities; (3) an amended
unified command plan that addresses opportunities of obtaining continuity
of effort in the Arctic Ocean by a single combatant commander; (4) the
basing infrastructure required to support Arctic strategic objectives,
including the need for a deep-water port in the Arctic; and (5) the status of
and need for icebreakers to determine whether icebreakers provide
important or required mission capabilities to support Arctic strategic
national security objectives and an assessment of the minimum and
optimal number of icebreakers that may be needed. DOD submitted its
Report to Congress on Arctic Operations and the Northwest Passage
(Arctic Report) on May 31, 2011.

House Report 112-78, which accompanied a proposed bill for the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (H.R. 1540),
directed us to provide an assessment of DOD’s Arctic Report, any
shortfalls noted, recommendations for legislative action, and any
information deemed appropriate in the context of the review to the
congressional defense committees within 180 days of receiving DOD’s
Arctic Report. 7 Specifically, our objectives are to assess the extent to
which (1) DOD’s Arctic Report addressed the specified reporting
elements and (2) DOD has efforts under way to identify and prioritize the
capabilities needed to meet national security objectives in the Arctic. This


5
 GAO, Coast Guard: Efforts to Identify Arctic Requirements Are Ongoing, but More
Communication about Agency Planning Efforts Would Be Beneficial, GAO-10-870
(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 15, 2010).
6
H. R. Rep. No. 111-491, at 337 (2010).
7
H. R. Rep. No. 112-78, at 291 (2011).




Page 2                                                    GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
letter and appendix II provide our response to the direction in the house
report and include an assessment of the degree to which DOD addressed
each of the five specified reporting elements in its report provided to the
defense committees.

To assess the extent to which DOD’s Arctic Report addressed the five
specified reporting elements, two GAO analysts independently reviewed
and compared the Arctic Report with the direction in the House Report.
We considered the reporting element to be addressed when the Arctic
Report explicitly addressed all parts of the element. We considered the
reporting element partially addressed when the Arctic Report addressed
at least one or more parts of the element, but not all parts of the element.
We considered the reporting element not addressed when the Arctic
Report did not explicitly address any part of the element. To assess the
extent to which DOD has efforts under way to identify and prioritize the
capabilities needed to meet national security objectives in the Arctic, we
reviewed documentation related to DOD’s Arctic operations, such as the
U.S. Navy’s November 2009 Arctic Roadmap, the February 2010
Quadrennial Defense Review, the U.S. European Command’s April 2011
Arctic Strategic Assessment, the U.S. Coast Guard’s July 2011 High
Latitude Study, 8 and the Navy’s September 2011 Arctic Capabilities
Based Assessment. We interviewed officials from the Office of the
Secretary of Defense; Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff;
U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense
Command; U.S. European Command; U.S. Pacific Command; U.S.
Transportation Command; and U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine
Corps Arctic offices. We also interviewed Coast Guard officials to
determine their contribution to and collaboration with DOD on the Arctic
Report.

We conducted this performance audit from July 2011 to January 2012 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and




8
 ABS Consulting, High Latitude Study Mission Analysis Report, a report contracted by
United States Coast Guard, July 2010.




Page 3                                                     GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
                          conclusions based on our audit objectives. See appendix I for a more
                          detailed description of our scope and methodology.

Background
Diminishing Ice Opens     Scientific research and projections of the changes taking place in the
Potential for Increased   Arctic vary, but there is a general consensus that Arctic sea ice is
Human Activity in the     diminishing. As recently as September 2011, scientists at the U.S.
                          National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that the annual Arctic
Arctic                    minimum sea ice extent for 2011 was the second lowest in the satellite
                          record, and 938,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average
                          annual minimum (see fig. 1). Much of the Arctic Ocean remains ice-
                          covered for a majority of the year, but some scientists have projected that
                          the Arctic will be ice-diminished for periods of time in the summer by as
                          soon as 2040. 9




                          9
                           A Joint Coast Guard/U.S. Navy Statement on Arctic ice terminology supports usage of
                          the term “ice-diminished” rather than “ice-free” because both agencies recognize that the
                          region will continue to remain ice-covered during the wintertime through the end of this
                          century and the current and projected decline in Arctic sea ice is highly variable from year
                          to year. The term “ice-free” means that no ice of any kind is present. The term “ice-
                          diminished” refers to sea ice concentrations of up to 15 percent ice in the area.




                          Page 4                                                        GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Figure 1: Change in Summer Minimum Ice Extent from 2001 to 2011, Compared with the 1979 to 2000 Median Minimum Ice
Extent

                                                                                                      Interactivity
                                                                                                      instructions
                                                                                                Roll over the year to view
                                                                                                  recorded ice extent.
                                                                                                 See appendix III for the
                                                                                                 non-interactive version.


                                                                                       Russia            2001
           Alaska
                                                                                                         2002

                                                                                                         2003

                                                                                                         2004

                                                                                                         2005
                                                                                     Finland

                                                                                                         2006
                                                                                 Sweeden
  Canada
                                                                                                         2007
                                                                              Norway
                                      Greenland
                                                                                                         2008
                                                        Iceland
                                                                                                         2009
                                                                                     England

                                                                                                         2010

                                                                             Ireland                       Median ice edge
                                            2011 total extent                                              September 2011 sea ice extent
                                  4.6 million square kilometers                                            Sea ice extent
                                        Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center.
                                       Note: The median ice edge displays the average annual minimum position of the ice edge.
                                        Note: The median ice edge displays the average annual minimum position of the ice edge.




                                       These environmental changes in the Arctic are making maritime transit
                                       more feasible and are increasing the likelihood of further expansion in
                                       human activity including tourism, oil and gas extraction, commercial
                                       shipping, and fishing in the region. 10 For example, in 2011, northern trans-



                                       10
                                         In August and December 2011, the Department of the Interior approved preliminary
                                       plans for one operator to drill for oil and gas, pending receipt of the operator’s well
                                       containment plan and other requirements.




                                       Page 5                                                                    GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
                           shipping routes opened during the summer months, 11 which permitted
                           more than 40 vessels to transit between June and October 2011. The
                           Northern Sea Route opened by mid-August, and appeared to remain
                           open through September, while the Northwest Passage opened for
                           periods in the summer for the fifth year in a row. See figure 2 for locations
                           of these shipping routes. Despite these changes, however, several
                           enduring characteristics still provide challenges to surface navigation in
                           the Arctic, including large amounts of winter ice and increased movement
                           of ice from spring to fall. Increased movement of sea ice makes its
                           location less predictable, a situation that is likely to increase the risk for
                           ships to become trapped or damaged by ice impacts. 12 DOD’s Arctic
                           Report states that scientists currently project transpolar routes will not be
                           reliably open until around 2040 and then only for a limited period during
                           the summer and early fall. DOD’s report assessed that most national
                           security missions will likely be limited to those months.


National Policies Guide    Key strategy and policy documents detail the United States’ national
DOD and Other              security objectives and guide DOD’s and other stakeholders’ operations
Stakeholders’ Operations   in the Arctic. The 2009 National Security Presidential Directive
                           66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25, Arctic Region Policy,
in the Arctic              establishes U.S. policy with respect to the Arctic region and tasks senior
                           officials, including the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security,
                           with its implementation. This directive identifies specific U.S. national
                           security and homeland security interests in the Arctic, including missile
                           defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for
                           strategic sealift, maritime presence and security operations; and ensuring
                           freedom of navigation and overflight. Additionally, the 2010 National
                           Security Strategy identifies four enduring national interests that are
                           relevant to the Arctic 13 and states that the U.S. has broad and


                           11
                             Open water indicates a large area of freely navigable water in which sea ice is present in
                           concentrations less than 10 percent. No ice of land origin is present.
                           12
                            These challenges are noted in the U.S. Coast Guard’s High Latitude Study, which the
                           Coast Guard provided to Congress in July 2011.
                           13
                             The four enduring interests identified in the 2010 National Security Strategy are (1) the
                           security of the United States, its citizens, and U.S. allies and partners; (2) a strong,
                           innovative, and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system that
                           promotes opportunity and prosperity; (3) respect for universal values at home and around
                           the world; and (4) an international order advanced by U.S. leadership that promotes
                           peace, security, and opportunity through stronger cooperation to meet global challenges.




                           Page 6                                                       GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
                           fundamental interests in the Arctic. The 2010 Quadrennial Defense
                           Review also provides top-level DOD policy guidance on the Arctic,
                           highlighting the need for DOD to work collaboratively with interagency
                           partners such as the Coast Guard to address gaps in Arctic
                           communications, domain awareness, search and rescue, and
                           environmental observation and forecasting. Finally, since the Arctic region
                           is primarily a maritime domain, existing U.S. guidance relating to maritime
                           areas continues to apply, such as the September 2005 National Strategy
                           for Maritime Security and National Security Presidential Directive
                           41/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 13, the Maritime Security
                           Policy.


Multiple Federal           DOD is responsible in the Arctic and elsewhere for securing the United
Stakeholders Have Arctic   States from direct attack; securing strategic access and retaining global
Responsibilities           freedom of action; strengthening existing and emerging alliances and
                           partnerships; and establishing favorable security conditions. Additionally,
                           the Navy has developed an Arctic Roadmap which lists Navy action
                           items, objectives, and desired effects for the Arctic region from fiscal
                           years 2010 to 2014. 14 Focus areas include training, communications,
                           operational investments, and environmental protection.

                           Since the Arctic is primarily a maritime domain, the Coast Guard plays a
                           significant role in Arctic policy implementation and enforcement. The
                           Coast Guard is a multimission, maritime military service within the
                           Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that has responsibilities
                           including maritime safety, security, environmental protection, and national
                           defense, among other missions. Therefore, as more navigable ocean
                           water emerges in the Arctic and human activity increases, the Coast
                           Guard will face expanding responsibilities in the region. For DOD facilities
                           and Coast Guard assets in the Arctic and Alaska, see figure 2.




                           14
                            U.S. Navy, Arctic Roadmap (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 10, 2009).




                           Page 7                                                  GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Figure 2: DOD Facilities and Coast Guard Assets in the Arctic and Alaska




                                         Page 8                            GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Other federal stakeholders include:

•    The National Science Foundation, which is responsible for funding
     U.S. Arctic research—including research on the causes and impacts
     of climate change––and providing associated logistics and
     infrastructure support to conduct this research. The National Science
     Foundation and the Coast Guard also coordinate on the use of the
     Coast Guard’s icebreakers for scientific research.
•    The Department of State, which is responsible for formulating and
     implementing U.S. policy on international issues concerning the
     Arctic, leading the domestic interagency Arctic Policy Group, and
     leading U.S. participation in the Arctic Council. 15
•    The Department of the Interior, which is responsible for oversight and
     regulation of resource development in U.S. Arctic regions. The
     department also coordinates with the Coast Guard on safety
     compliance inspections of offshore energy facilities and in the event of
     a major oil spill.
•    The Department of Transportation and its component agency, the
     Maritime Administration, which works on marine transportation and
     shipping issues in the Arctic and elsewhere, among other things.
•    The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric
     Administration, which provides information on Arctic oceanic and
     atmospheric conditions and issues weather and ice forecasts, among
     other responsibilities.




15
  The Arctic Council is a high level intergovernmental forum for promoting cooperation,
coordination and interaction among the Arctic states, with the involvement of the Arctic
indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in
particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection. The eight
permanent member states include Canada, Denmark (representing also Greenland and
Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.




Page 9                                                      GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
                         DOD’s May 2011 Arctic Report either addressed or partially addressed all
DOD’s Arctic Report      of the elements specified in the House Report. 16 Specifically, our analysis
Addressed or Partially   showed that, of the five reporting elements, DOD addressed three and
Addressed All Five       partially addressed two. The elements not fully addressed were to have
                         included a timeline to obtain needed Arctic capabilities and an
Specified Reporting      assessment of the minimum and optimal number of icebreakers that may
Elements                 be needed to support Arctic strategic national security objectives.
                         According to DOD officials, these elements were not fully addressed for a
                         number of reasons such as DOD’s assessment that Arctic operations are
                         a challenge but not yet an urgency; the report’s being written prior to
                         initiating the formal DOD capabilities development process, making it
                         difficult to provide a timeline for obtaining Arctic capabilities; and DOD’s
                         assessment that its need for icebreakers is currently limited to one
                         mission per year. Furthermore, DOD’s Arctic Report notes that significant
                         uncertainty remains about the extent, rate, and impact of climate change
                         in the Arctic and the pace at which human activity will increase, making it
                         challenging for DOD to plan for possible future conditions in the region
                         and to mobilize public or political support for investments in U.S. Arctic
                         capabilities or infrastructure. Figure 3 below summarizes our assessment
                         of the extent to which DOD’s Arctic Report included each of the specified
                         reporting elements and the reasons DOD officials provided for any
                         elements that were not fully addressed. Appendix II includes our detailed
                         evaluation of each of the specified reporting elements.




                         16
                          H. R. Rep. No. 111-491, at 337 (2010).




                         Page 10                                           GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Figure 3: GAO Assessment of the Extent to Which DOD’s Arctic Report Addressed the Five Specified Reporting Elements




                                       Page 11                                              GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
                             DOD has several efforts under way to assess the capabilities needed to
DOD Has Identified           support U.S. strategic objectives in the Arctic. However, it has not yet
Arctic Capability            developed a comprehensive approach to addressing Arctic capabilities
                             that would include steps such as developing a risk-based investment
Gaps, but Lacks a            strategy and timeline to address near-term needs and establishing a
Comprehensive                collaborative forum with the Coast Guard to identify long-term Arctic
Approach to                  investments.

Addressing Arctic
Capabilities

DOD Has Efforts Under        While DOD’s Arctic Report assessed a relatively low level of threat in the
Way to Assess Near-term      Arctic region, it noted three capability gaps that have the potential to
Arctic Capability Gaps but   hamper Arctic operations. These gaps include (1) limited
                             communications, such as degraded high-frequency radio signals in
Lacks a Risk-Based           latitudes above 70°N because of magnetic and solar phenomena; (2)
Investment Strategy to       degraded global positioning system performance that could affect
Address These Gaps           missions that require precision navigation, such as search and rescue;
                             and (3) limited awareness across all domains in the Arctic because of
                             distances, limited presence, and the harsh environment. Other key
                             challenges identified include: shortfalls in ice and weather reporting and
                             forecasting; limitations in command, control, communications, computers,
                             intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance because of a lack of assets
                             and harsh environmental conditions; limited inventory of ice-capable
                             vessels; and limited shore-based infrastructure. According to DOD’s
                             Arctic Report, capabilities will need to be reassessed as conditions
                             change, and gaps will need to be addressed to be prepared to operate in
                             a more accessible Arctic. Other stakeholders have also assessed Arctic
                             capability gaps. Examples of these efforts include the following:

                             •   U.S. Northern Command initiated a commander’s estimate for the
                                 Arctic in December 2010 that, according to officials, will establish the
                                 commander’s intent and missions in the Arctic and identify capability
                                 shortfalls. In addition, Northern Command identified two Arctic-specific
                                 capability gaps (communications and maritime domain awareness) in
                                 its fiscal years 2013 through 2017 integrated priority list, which defines
                                 the combatant command’s highest-priority capability gaps for the
                                 near-term, including shortfalls that may adversely affect missions.
                             •   U.S. European Command completed an Arctic Strategic Assessment
                                 in April 2011 that, among other things, identified Arctic capability gaps
                                 in the areas of environmental protection, maritime domain awareness,



                             Page 12                                             GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
    cooperative development of environmental awareness technology,
    sharing of environmental data, and lessons learned on infrastructure
    development. In addition, it recommended that the command conduct
    a more detailed mission analysis for potential Arctic missions,
    complete a detailed capability estimate for Arctic operations, and work
    in conjunction with Northern Command and the Departments of the
    Navy and Air Force to conduct a comprehensive capabilities-based
    assessment for the Arctic.
•   DOD and DHS established the Capabilities Assessment Working
    Group (working group) in May 2011 to identify shared Arctic capability
    gaps as well as opportunities and approaches to overcome them, to
    include making recommendations for near-term investments. 17 The
    working group was directed by its Terms of Reference to focus on four
    primary capability areas when identifying potential collaborative efforts
    to enhance Arctic capabilities, including near-term investments. Those
    capability areas include maritime domain awareness,
    communications, infrastructure, and presence. The working group
    was also directed to identify overlaps and redundancies in established
    and emerging DOD and DHS Arctic requirements. As the advocate for
    Arctic capabilities, Northern Command was assigned lead
    responsibility for DOD in the working group, while the Coast Guard
    was assigned lead responsibility for DHS. The establishment of the
    working group—which, among other things, is to identify opportunities
    for bi-departmental action to close Arctic capability gaps and issue
    recommendations for near-term investments—helps to ensure that
    collaboration between the Coast Guard and DOD is taking place to
    identify near-term capabilities needed to support current planning and
    operations. Although the working group is developing a paper with its
    recommendations, officials indicated that additional assessments
    would be required to address those recommendations.
•   U.S. Navy completed its first Arctic capabilities-based assessment in
    September 2011 and is developing a second capabilities-based
    assessment focused on observing, mapping, and environmental
    prediction capabilities in the Arctic, which officials expect to be



17
  The Capabilities Assessment Working Group was chartered by the DOD and DHS
Capabilities Development Working Group, established by the DOD Under Secretary for
Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the DHS Under Secretary for Science and
Technology; and the DHS Under Secretary for Management. The Capabilities
Development Working Group is a mechanism for improving cooperation and facilitating
decision-making on DOD-DHS capability development. The group’s charter states it will
meet quarterly to discuss topics of mutual interest.




Page 13                                                   GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
     completed in the spring of 2012. The Navy’s first Arctic capabilities-
     based assessment identified three critical capability gaps as the
     highest priorities, including the capabilities to provide environmental
     information; maneuver safely on the sea surface; and conduct
     training, exercise, and education. This assessment recommended
     several near-term actions to address these gaps.
DOD’s Arctic Report states that the development of Arctic capabilities
requires a deliberate risk-based investment strategy, but DOD has not
developed such a strategy. Although DOD and its components have
identified current Arctic capability gaps, the department may not be taking
appropriate steps to best ensure its future preparedness because DOD
lacks a risk-based investment strategy and a timeline for addressing near-
term capability needs. According to DOD officials, there had been no
Arctic-related submissions to its formal capabilities development process
as of September 2011; this process could take two or more years to be
approved, followed by additional time for actual capability development. 18

Our prior work has shown that industry best practices include using a risk-
based strategy to prioritize and address capability gaps. 19 A risk-based
investment strategy may be used to define and prioritize related resource
and operational requirements, as well as develop a timeline to obtain
those requirements. This strategy includes five key phases: (1) setting
strategic goals and objectives, and determining constraints; (2) assessing
risks; (3) evaluating alternatives for addressing these risks; (4) selecting
the appropriate alternatives; and (5) implementing the alternatives and
monitoring the progress made and results achieved. Even though DOD
has made preliminary efforts to identify Arctic capability gaps and assess
strategic objectives, constraints, and risks in the Arctic, DOD has not yet
evaluated, selected, or implemented alternatives for prioritizing and
addressing near-term Arctic capability needs. For example, DOD officials
stated that they are at the beginning stages of assessing Arctic capability
gaps and challenges and have not yet begun to consider potential
alternative solutions for addressing these gaps. Alternatives could include


18
  For further discussion on DOD’s formal capabilities development process (the Joint
Capabilities Integration and Development System) see GAO, Defense Acquisitions:
DOD’s Requirements Determination Process Has Not Been Effective in Prioritizing Joint
Capabilities, GAO-08-1060 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 25, 2008).
19
  GAO, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: DOD Needs a Strategic, Risk-
Based Approach to Enhance Its Maritime Domain Awareness, GAO-11-621 (Washington,
D.C.: June 20, 2011).




Page 14                                                   GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
                           those that would minimize DOD investments by leveraging capabilities of
                           interagency and international partners or they could also include
                           submissions to DOD’s formal capabilities development process. Another
                           alternative could include accepting the risk of potentially being late to
                           develop these needed capabilities in order to provide limited fiscal
                           resources to other priorities.

                           Given that the opening in the Arctic presents a wide range of challenges
                           for DOD, a risk-based investment strategy and timeline can help DOD
                           develop the capabilities needed to meet national security interests in the
                           region. Without a risk-based investment strategy and timeline for
                           prioritizing and addressing near-term Arctic capability gaps and
                           challenges, which is periodically updated to reflect evolving needs, DOD
                           could be slow to develop needed capabilities, potentially facing
                           operational risk and higher costs if the need arises to execute plans
                           rapidly. Conversely, DOD could move too early, making premature Arctic
                           investments that take resources from other, more pressing needs or
                           producing capabilities that could be outdated before they are used.


DOD and DHS Have           While DOD and DHS have established the working group to identify
Established a              shared near-term Arctic capability gaps, this collaborative forum is not
Collaborative Forum to     intended to address long-term Arctic capability gaps or identify
                           opportunities for joint investments over the longer-term. DOD
Identify Potential Near-   acknowledged the importance of collaboration with the Coast Guard over
term Investments but Not   the long-term in its 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, which states that
Long-term Needs            the department must work with the Coast Guard and DHS to develop
                           Arctic capabilities to support both current and future planning and
                           operations. According to DOD and Coast Guard officials, although the
                           working group is primarily focused on near-term investments, it has
                           discussed some mid- to long-term capability needs. However, DOD and
                           Coast Guard officials stated that after the completion of the working
                           group’s paper, expected in January 2012, the working group will have
                           completed the tasks detailed in the Terms of Reference and will be
                           dissolved. Consequently, no forum will exist to further address any mid- to
                           long-term capability needs.

                           Although we have previously reported that there are several existing
                           interagency organizations working on Arctic issues, these organizations
                           do not specifically address Arctic capability needs. These organizations




                           Page 15                                           GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
include the Interagency Policy Committee on the Arctic, the Arctic Policy
Group, and the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, among
others. 20 DOD and DHS also have long-standing memorandums of
agreement related to coordination between DOD and the Coast Guard in
both maritime homeland security and maritime homeland defense. The
objectives of these interagency organizations range from developing
coordinated research policy for the Arctic region to tracking
implementation of national Arctic policy to identifying implementation
gaps, but do not specifically address capability gaps in the Arctic.
According to DOD and Coast Guard officials we spoke with, only the
working group is focused specifically on addressing Arctic capabilities.
After the working group completes its tasks in January 2012, there will be
no DOD and Coast Guard organization focused specifically on reducing
overlap and redundancies or collaborating to address Arctic capability
gaps in support of future planning and operations, as is directed by the
2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.

While Northern Command officials stated they have plans for periodic
reassessment of long-term capability needs, such as icebreakers or
basing infrastructure including a deep-water port, it is not clear how those
plans consider collaboration with the Coast Guard. For example, officials
stated the biennial review of Northern Command’s Theater Campaign
Plan 21 and Strategic Infrastructure Master Plan 22 will consider long-term
capability and infrastructure needs. They added that the commander’s
Arctic Estimate is reviewed annually and also considers long-term


20
  The Interagency Policy Committee on the Arctic was created in March 2010 to
coordinate governmentwide implementation of National Security Presidential Directive
66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25, and is co-chaired by the White House’s
National Security Staff and Council on Environmental Quality. The Arctic Policy Group
was established in 1971 to coordinate U.S. policy positions on international Arctic issues
and is led by the Department of State. The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee
was established by the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984 to help set priorities for
future Arctic research. In July 2010, responsibility for this committee shifted to the National
Science and Technology Council. See GAO-10-870, appendix IV for descriptions of other
select interagency coordination efforts.
21
  A theater campaign plan encompasses the activities of a supported geographic
combatant commander, which accomplish strategic or operational objectives within a
theater of war or theater of operations, and translates national or theater strategy into
operational concepts and those concepts into unified action.
22
  A strategic infrastructure master plan identifies infrastructure requirements, installation
and facility locations, existing or planned capabilities at each location, and required
infrastructure improvements.




Page 16                                                        GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
              priorities, such as identifying a need for icebreakers. However, the
              officials stated that the Arctic Estimate does not identify how DOD would
              acquire those icebreakers or how it would coordinate with the Coast
              Guard—the operator of the nation’s icebreakers 23—to reconstruct existing
              or build new icebreakers. The Coast Guard has a more immediate need
              to develop Arctic capabilities such as icebreakers and has taken steps to
              address some long-term capability gaps. Meanwhile, given that it could
              take approximately 10 years to develop icebreakers, the process for DOD
              and the Coast Guard to identify and procure new icebreakers would have
              to begin within the next year to ensure that U.S. heavy icebreaking
              capabilities are maintained beyond 2020.

              Our prior work has shown that collaboration with partners can help avoid
              wasting scarce resources and increase effectiveness of efforts. 24 Without
              specific plans for a collaborative forum between DOD and the Coast
              Guard to address long-term Arctic capability gaps and to identify
              opportunities for joint investments over the longer-term, DOD may miss
              opportunities to leverage resources with the Coast Guard to enhance
              future Arctic capabilities.


              At this time, significant DOD investments in Arctic capabilities may not be
Conclusions   needed, but that does not preclude taking steps to anticipate and prepare
              for Arctic operations in the future. Addressing near-term gaps is essential
              for DOD to have the key enabling capabilities it needs to communicate,
              navigate, and maintain awareness of activity in the region. An investment
              strategy that identifies and prioritizes near-term Arctic capability needs


              23
                The Navy and the Coast Guard have a long-standing memorandum of agreement
              regarding the use of the nation’s icebreakers—the Coast Guard operates the nation’s
              icebreakers and uses them, when needed, to support the Navy. The 1965 U.S. Navy-U.S.
              Treasury Memorandum of Agreement was executed to permit consolidation of the
              icebreaker fleet under one agency. That rationale was reinforced by a 1982 Roles and
              Missions Study which stated that polar icebreakers should be centrally managed by one
              agency and that the Coast Guard was the appropriate one because of the multimission
              nature of polar ice operations. This memorandum of agreement was updated in 2008. The
              signatories were DOD and DHS and the agreement included an update on responsibilities
              for coastal security.
              24
                GAO, Interagency Collaboration: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight of National
              Security Strategies, Organizations, Workforce, and Information Sharing, GAO-09-904SP
              (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 25, 2009); and GAO, National Security: Key Challenges and
              Solutions to Strengthen Interagency Collaboration, GAO-10-822T (Washington, D.C.:
              June 9, 2010).




              Page 17                                                  GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
                      and identifies a timeline to address them would be useful for decision
                      makers in planning and budgeting. Without taking deliberate steps to
                      analyze risks in the Arctic and prioritize related resource and operational
                      requirements, DOD could later find itself faced with urgent needs,
                      resulting in higher costs that could have been avoided.

                      In addition, unless DOD and DHS continue to collaborate to identify
                      opportunities for interagency action to close Arctic capability gaps, DOD
                      could miss out on opportunities to work with the Coast Guard to leverage
                      resources for shared needs. DOD may choose to create a new
                      collaborative forum or incorporate this collaboration into an existing forum
                      or process. Given the different missions and associated timelines of DOD
                      and the Coast Guard for developing Arctic capabilities, it is important that
                      the two agencies work together to avoid fragmented efforts and reduce
                      unaffordable overlap and redundancies while addressing Arctic capability
                      gaps in support of future planning and operations.


                      To more effectively leverage federal investments in Arctic capabilities in a
Recommendations for   resource-constrained environment and ensure needed capabilities are
Executive Action      developed in a timely way, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense,
                      in consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Homeland
                      Security, take the following two actions:

                      •   develop a risk-based investment strategy that: 1) identifies and
                          prioritizes near-term Arctic capability needs, 2) develops a timeline for
                          addressing them, and 3) is updated as appropriate; and
                      •   establish a collaborative forum with the Coast Guard to fully leverage
                          federal investments and help avoid overlap and redundancies in
                          addressing long-term Arctic capability needs.



                      In written comments on a draft of this report, DHS concurred with both of
Agency Comments       our recommendations. For its part, DOD partially concurred with both of
and Our Evaluation    our recommendations. It generally agreed that the department needed to
                      take action to address the issues we raised but indicated it is already
                      taking initial steps to address them. DOD and DHS’s comments are
                      reprinted in appendices VI and VII, respectively. Technical comments
                      were provided separately and incorporated as appropriate.




                      Page 18                                            GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
With respect to DOD’s comments on our first recommendation, DOD
stated that its existing processes—including prioritizing Arctic capability
needs through the Commander’s annual integrated priority lists; balancing
those needs against other requirements through the annual planning,
programming, budgeting, and execution system process; and addressing
Service requirements through program objective memorandum
submissions—enable DOD to balance the risk of being late-to-need with
the opportunity cost of making premature Arctic investments. However,
DOD’s response did not address how it would develop a risk-based
investment strategy. As stated in our report, DOD has considered some
elements of such a risk-based investment strategy by setting strategic
goals and objectives, determining constraints, and assessing risks (such
as Northern Command’s inclusion of two Arctic-specific capability needs
in its fiscal years 2013 through 2017 integrated priority list). However,
DOD has not yet conducted the remaining three phases of a risk-based
investment strategy: evaluating alternatives for addressing these risks,
selecting the appropriate alternatives, and implementing the alternatives
and monitoring the progress made and results achieved. We believe that
considering potential alternative solutions, such as leveraging the
capabilities of interagency or international partners, could help minimize
DOD’s investment in Arctic capabilities. DOD’s Arctic Report also
emphasized the need for a risk-based investment strategy, noting that
“the long lead time associated with capability development, particularly
the procurement of space-based assets and ships, requires a deliberate
risk-based investment strategy” and noted that “additional capability
analysis will be required.” By developing a risk-based investment strategy
to prioritize near-term investment needs and a timeline for addressing
them, DOD can be better prepared in its planning and budgeting
decisions.

With respect to our second recommendation, both DOD and DHS cited
the importance of collaboration to develop Arctic capabilities and
identified some existing forums that include Arctic issues, such as the
annual Navy and Coast Guard staff talks and the joint DOD-DHS
Capabilities Development Working Group. Our report also identified
additional existing interagency organizations working on Arctic issues,
and we agree that these forums can help avoid overlap and redundancies
in addressing long-term Arctic capability needs. However, these forums
do not specifically focus on Arctic capability needs, and no DOD and
Coast Guard forum will be focused on reducing overlap and redundancies
or collaborating to address Arctic capability gaps following the dissolution
of the Arctic Capabilities Assessment Working Group in January 2012.
We continue to believe that focusing specifically on long-term Arctic


Page 19                                           GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
capability needs will enable DOD and the Coast Guard to better leverage
resources for shared needs.


We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional
committees, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the
Department of Homeland Security. In addition, the report is available at
no charge on the GAO Web site at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staffs have questions about this report, please contact me
at pendletonj@gao.gov or (202) 512-3489. Contact points for our Offices
of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last
page of this report. GAO staff who made key contributions to this report
are listed in appendix VIII.




John H. Pendleton
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management




Page 20                                           GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
List of Committees

The Honorable Carl Levin
Chairman
The Honorable John McCain
Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

The Honorable Daniel Inouye
Chairman
The Honorable Thad Cochran
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

The Honorable Howard P. McKeon
Chairman
The Honorable Adam Smith
Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services
House of Representatives

The Honorable C.W. “Bill” Young
Chairman
The Honorable Norman D. Dicks
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives




Page 21                           GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Methodology



Methodology

              The objectives of our work were to determine the extent to which (1) the
              Department of Defense (DOD) report on the Arctic addresses the
              reporting elements specified in House Report 111-491 1 and (2) DOD has
              efforts under way to identify and prioritize the capabilities needed to meet
              national security objectives in the Arctic. To gather information for both
              objectives we reviewed various DOD and Coast Guard documentation.
              We interviewed officials from the Office of the Secretary of Defense;
              Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; U.S. Northern
              Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command; U.S.
              European Command; U.S. Pacific Command; U.S. Transportation
              Command; and U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps Arctic
              offices. We also interviewed Coast Guard officials to determine their
              contribution to DOD’s efforts to identify and prioritize capabilities.

              To address the extent to which DOD’s report on the Arctic addresses the
              reporting elements specified in House Report 111-491, we evaluated the
              DOD Report to Congress on Arctic Operations and the Northwest
              Passage (Arctic Report) issued in May 2011. We determined that the
              extent to which DOD addressed each specified element would be rated
              as either “addressed,” “partially addressed,” or “not addressed.” These
              categories were defined as follows:

              •   Addressed: An element is addressed when the Arctic Report explicitly
                  addresses all parts of the element.
              •   Partially addressed: An element is partially addressed when the Arctic
                  Report addresses at least one or more parts of the element, but not all
                  parts of the element.
              •   Not addressed: An element is not addressed when the Arctic Report
                  did not explicitly address any part of the element.

              Specifically, two GAO analysts independently reviewed and compared the
              Arctic Report with the direction in the House Report; assessed whether
              each element was addressed, partially addressed, or not addressed; and
              recorded their assessment and the basis for the assessment. The final
              assessment reflected the analysts’ consensus based on the individual
              assessments. In addition, we interviewed DOD officials involved in
              preparing the Arctic Report to discuss their interpretation of the direction
              in the House Report and the DOD report’s findings. To provide context,


              1
               H.R. Rep. No. 111-491, at 337 (2010). This report accompanied H.R. 5136, a proposed
              bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011.




              Page 22                                                  GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




our assessment also reflected our review of relevant DOD and Coast
Guard documents, as well as issues raised in recent GAO reports that
specifically relate to some of the specified reporting elements.

To address the extent to which DOD has efforts under way to identify and
prioritize the capabilities needed to meet national security objectives in
the Arctic, we reviewed documentation related to DOD’s Arctic
operations, such as the U.S. Navy’s November 2009 Arctic Roadmap, the
February 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the U.S. European
Command’s April 2011 Arctic Strategic Assessment, the U.S. Coast
Guard’s July 2011 High Latitude Study, and the Navy’s September 2011
Arctic Capabilities Based Assessment. We also interviewed officials from
various DOD and Coast Guard offices.

We conducted this performance audit from July 2011 to January 2012 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our audit objectives.




Page 23                                          GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix II: Extent to which DOD’s Arctic Report Addressed Specified Reporting Elements


                                        Reporting Element 1: Strategic National
                                        Security Objectives and Restrictions in the
                                        Arctic
                                        Detailed Assessment of This Element
                                        We determined that the Department of Defense (DOD) addressed this
 Reporting Requirement                  element because the Report to Congress on Arctic Operations and the
 H. R. Rep. No. 111-491, which          Northwest Passage (Arctic Report) includes an assessment of U.S.
 accompanied a proposed bill for        strategic national security objectives and restrictions in the Arctic.
 the National Defense Authorization     Specifically, the report states that DOD reviewed national-level policy
 Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (H.R.         guidance and concluded that the overarching strategic national security
 5136), directed DOD to submit a        objective for the Arctic is a stable and secure region where U.S. national
 report on Arctic Operations and the    interests are safeguarded and the U.S. homeland is protected (see fig. 4
 Northwest Passage. This report is      for descriptions of the policy guidance documents DOD reviewed). The
 to include, among other things, an     report further identifies two DOD strategic objectives to achieve the
 assessment of the strategic
                                        desired end-state for the Arctic: (1) prevent and deter conflict and (2)
 national security objectives and
                                        prepare to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies. In
 restrictions in the Arctic region.
                                        addition, the report identifies and examines restrictions in the Arctic. For
                                        example, the report states that uncertainty about the extent, impact, and
                                        rate of climate change in the Arctic will make it challenging to plan for
                                        possible future conditions in the region and to mobilize public or political
                                        support for investments in U.S. Arctic capabilities or infrastructure.
                                        Figure 4: Policy Guidance on the Arctic Identified in DOD’s Arctic Report

                                                                                    Interactivity instructions
                                               Roll over the document name to view short description. See appendix IV for the non-interactive version.
 Our Assessment:
 Addressed                                     National Security
                                                 Presidential                                           Executive Order
                                                                                                     13547 Stewardship of
 Based on our assessment, we                Directive 66/Homeland          2010 National
                                                                                                    the Ocean, Our Coasts,
                                                                                                                                   2010 Quadrennial
                                             Security Presidential        Security Strategy                                         Defense Review
 determined that DOD addressed                Directive 25, Arctic                                    and the Great Lakes
 this reporting element.                        Region Policy



                                                                                 Arctic national security objective:
                                                                        “A stable and secure region where U.S. national
                                                                interests are safeguarded and the U.S. homeland is protected.”


                                       Source: GAO analysis.



                                        Related Findings from Previous GAO Reports
                                        In 2010, we reported on the difficulties associated with developing
                                        capabilities needed to understand the extent, rate, and impact of climate
                                        change. Specifically, we found that while agencies have taken steps to plan
                                        for some continued climate observations via satellite data in the near-term,
                                        they lack a strategy for the long-term provision of such data.1 For example,
                                        we reported that DOD has not established plans to restore the full set of
                                        capabilities intended for the National Polar-orbiting Operational
                                        Environmental Satellite System over the life of the program. We noted that
                                        without a comprehensive long-term strategy for continuing environmental
                                        measurements over the coming decades and a means for implementing it,
                                        agencies will continue to independently pursue their immediate priorities on
                                        an ad-hoc basis, the economic benefits of a coordinated approach to
                                        investments in earth observation may be lost, and our nation’s ability to
                                        understand climate change may be limited.

                                        1
                                        GAO, Environmental Satellites: Strategy Needed to Sustain Critical Climate and Space
                                        Weather Measurements, GAO-10-456 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 27, 2010).
                                        Page 24                                                                        GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix II: Extent to which DOD’s Arctic Report Addressed Specified Reporting Elements


                                         Reporting Element 2: Required Mission
                                         Capabilities and a Timeline to Obtain Such
                                         Capabilities
                                         Detailed Assessment of This Element
                                         We determined that DOD partially addressed this element because the
 Reporting Requirement                   Arctic Report includes a capability gap assessment in relation to Arctic
 H. R. Rep. No. 111-491, which           mission areas but does not provide a timeline to obtain such capabilities.
 accompanied a proposed bill for         Specifically, the report identifies potential Arctic capability gaps over the
 the National Defense Authorization      near- (2010-2020), mid- (2020-2030), and far-term (beyond 2030) that
 Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (H.R.          may affect DOD’s ability to accomplish four of nine mission areas in the
 5136), directed DOD to submit a         region, including maritime domain awareness, maritime security, search
 report on Arctic Operations and the     and rescue, and sea control. The report notes that three capability gaps
 Northwest Passage. This report is       in particular have the potential to hamper Arctic operations across all
 to include, among other things, an      time frames: (1) insufficient communications architecture, (2) degraded
 assessment on mission capabilities
                                         Global Positioning System performance, and (3) extremely limited
 required to support the strategic
                                         domain awareness. Other key challenges identified include: shortfalls in
 national security objectives and a
                                         ice and weather reporting and forecasting; limitations in command,
 timeline to obtain such capabilities.
                                         control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and
                                         reconnaissance; and limited shore-based infrastructure and inventory of
                                         ice-capable vessels. Although DOD states in the report that capabilities
                                         will need to be reassessed as conditions change and gaps addressed in
                                         order to be prepared to operate in a more accessible Arctic, it does not
                                         provide a timeline for addressing capability gaps or challenges identified.
 Our Assessment:
                                         Related Findings from Previous GAO Reports
 Partially Addressed
                                         We previously reported on the challenges DOD and Coast Guard face in
 Based on our assessment, we
                                         achieving maritime domain awareness, a capability gap identified in
 determined that DOD partially
 addressed this reporting element.       DOD’s Arctic Report. For example, in 2011 we found that DOD lacks a
                                         strategic, risk-based approach to manage its maritime domain awareness
                                         efforts and to address high priority capability gaps. 2 To improve DOD’s
                                         ability to manage the implementation of maritime domain awareness
                                         across DOD, we recommended that DOD develop and implement a
                                         departmentwide strategy that: identifies objectives and roles and
                                         responsibilities for achieving maritime domain awareness; aligns efforts
                                         and objectives with DOD’s process for determining requirements and
                                         allocating resources; identifies capability resourcing responsibilities; and
                                         includes performance measures. We also recommended that DOD, in
                                         collaboration with other stakeholders such as the Coast Guard, perform a
                                         comprehensive risk-based analysis to prioritize and address DOD’s
                                         critical maritime capability gaps and guide future investments. DOD
                                         concurred with our recommendations and identified actions it is taking—
                                         or plans to take—to address them. We also reported in 2010 that the
                                         Coast Guard faces challenges in achieving Arctic domain awareness,
                                         including inadequate Arctic Ocean and weather data, lack of
                                         communication infrastructure, limited intelligence information, and lack of
                                         a physical presence in the Arctic. 3 Other challenges reported include
                                         minimal assets and infrastructure for Arctic missions and diminishing fleet
                                         expertise for operating in Arctic-type conditions.
                                         2
                                           GAO, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: DOD Needs a Strategic, Risk-
                                         Based Approach to Enhance Its Maritime Domain Awareness, GAO-11-621 (Washington,
                                         D.C.: June 20, 2011).
                                         3
                                           GAO, Coast Guard: Efforts to Identify Arctic Requirements Are Ongoing, but More
                                         Communication about Agency Planning Efforts Would Be Beneficial, GAO-10-870
                                         (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 15, 2010).

                                         Page 25                                               GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix II: Extent to which DOD’s Arctic Report Addressed Specified Reporting Elements


                                         Reporting Element 3: Amended Unified
                                         Command Plan

                                         Detailed Assessment of This Element
                                         We determined that DOD addressed this element because the Arctic
 Reporting Requirement                   Report includes an assessment of the revised April 2011 Unified
 H. R. Rep. No. 111-491, which           Command Plan that addresses the impact of aligning the Arctic Ocean
 accompanied a proposed bill for         under a single combatant commander. The April 2011 Unified Command
 the National Defense Authorization      Plan shifted areas of responsibility boundaries in the Arctic region. As a
 Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (H.R.          result of this realignment, responsibility for the Arctic region is now
 5136), directed DOD to submit a         shared between U.S. Northern and U.S. European Commands—
 report on Arctic Operations and the     previously, under the 2008 Unified Command Plan, the two commands
 Northwest Passage. This report is       and U.S. Pacific Command shared responsibility for the region, as shown
 to include, among other things, an      in figure 5. In addition, the April 2011 Unified Command Plan assigned
 assessment of an amended unified        Northern Command responsibility for advocating for Arctic capabilities.
 command plan that addresses             The Arctic Report states that having two combatant commands
 opportunities of obtaining continuity
                                         responsible for a portion of the Arctic Ocean aligned with adjacent land
 of effort in the Arctic Ocean by a
                                         boundaries is an arrangement best suited to achieve continuity of effort
 single combatant commander.
                                         with key regional partners and that aligning the entire Arctic Ocean under
                                         a single combatant command would disrupt progress in theater security
                                         cooperation achieved over decades of dialogue and confidence building
                                         by Northern and European Commands with regional stakeholders. The
                                         report also notes that although having multiple combatant commands
 Our Assessment:                         with responsibility in the Arctic Ocean makes coordination more
 Addressed                               challenging, having too few would leave out key stakeholders, diminish
 Based on our assessment, we             long-standing relationships, and potentially alienate important partners.
 determined that DOD addressed
 this reporting element.
                                         Figure 5: Arctic Responsibilities under the Unified Command Plan: 2008 and 2011
                                                                               Interactivity instructions
                                                 Click on each year’s map to view larger. See appendix V for the non-interactive version.

                                                                     2008                                         2011




                                                       U.S. Northern Command

                                                       U.S. European Command

                                                       U.S. Pacific Command


                                         Source: GAO analysis of the 2008 and 2011 Unified Command Plans.




                                         Page 2                                                               GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix II: Extent to which DOD’s Arctic Report Addressed Specified Reporting Elements


                                       Reporting Element 4: Required Basing
                                       Infrastructure, Including the Need for a Deep-
                                       Water Port
                                       Detailed Assessment of This Element
                                       We determined that DOD addressed this element because the Arctic
 Reporting Requirement                 Report assesses the existing Arctic infrastructure to be adequate to meet
 H. R. Rep. No. 111-491, which         near- (2010-2020) to mid-term (2020-2030) U.S. national security needs,
 accompanied a proposed bill for       noting that DOD does not currently anticipate a need for the construction
 the National Defense Authorization    of additional bases or a deep-draft port in Alaska before 2020.
 Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (H.R.        Specifically, the Arctic Report examines the defense infrastructure such
 5136), directed DOD to submit a       as bases, ports, and airfields needed to support DOD strategic objectives
 report on Arctic Operations and the   for the Arctic, and it discusses the environmental challenges and higher
 Northwest Passage. This report is     costs associated with construction and maintenance of Arctic
 to include, among other things, an    infrastructure. It concludes that with the low potential for armed conflict in
 assessment of the basing              the region, existing DOD posture is adequate to meet U.S. defense
 infrastructure required to support    needs through 2030. In addition, the report states that DOD does not
 Arctic strategic objectives,
                                       currently anticipate a need for the construction of a deep-draft port in
 including the need for a deep-water
                                       Alaska before 2020. The report does not address the basing
 port in the Arctic.
                                       infrastructure required to support long-term U.S. national security needs.
                                       The report notes that given the long lead times for construction of major
                                       infrastructure in the region, DOD will periodically reevaluate this
                                       assessment as activity in the region gradually increases and the
                                       combatant commanders update their regional plans on a regular basis.
                                       The report also states that one area for future assessment might be the
 Our Assessment:                       need for a co-located airport and port facility suitable for deployment of
 Addressed                             undersea search and rescue assets but does not provide a timeline for
 Based on our assessment, we           completing such an assessment.
 determined that DOD addressed         Related Findings from Previous GAO Reports
 this reporting element.
                                       Our prior work has identified the high costs associated with operating and
                                       maintaining installations outside the contiguous United States. In
                                       February 2011, we reported that DOD’s posture-planning guidance does
                                       not require the combatant commands to compile and report
                                       comprehensive cost data associated with posture requirements or to
                                       analyze the costs and benefits of posture alternatives when considering
                                       changes to posture. 4 We noted that without such requirements, DOD’s
                                       posture-planning process will continue to lack critical information that
                                       could be used by decision makers as they deliberate posture
                                       requirements and potential opportunities to obtain greater cost
                                       efficiencies may not be identified. We recommended that DOD revise its
                                       posture-planning guidance to require combatant commands to include
                                       the costs associated with initiatives that would alter future posture, and
                                       that DOD provide guidance on how the combatant commands should
                                       analyze the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action when
                                       considering proposed changes to posture. DOD agreed with our
                                       recommendations and identified corrective actions, but additional steps
                                       are needed to fully address the recommendations. These findings
                                       underscore the importance of DOD and Northern Command identifying
                                       and analyzing the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action
                                       associated with future defense posture in the Arctic.


                                       4
                                        GAO, Defense Management: Additional Cost Information and Stakeholder Input Needed
                                       to Assess Military Posture in Europe, GAO-11-131 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 3, 2011).

                                       Page 27                                               GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix II: Extent to which DOD’s Arctic Report Addressed Specified Reporting Elements


                                       Reporting Element 5: Status of and Need for
                                       Icebreakers, Including an Assessment of the
                                       Minimum and Optimal Number of Icebreakers
                                       Detailed Assessment of This Element
                                       We determined that DOD partially addressed this element because the
 Reporting Requirement
                                       Arctic Report identifies current U.S. polar icebreakers, but it provides
 H. R. Rep. No. 111-491, which         limited details on the status of U.S. icebreakers and does not assess the
 accompanied a proposed bill for       minimum and optimal number of icebreakers that may be needed. For
 the National Defense Authorization    example, the Arctic Report states that the U.S. Coast Guard owns the
 Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (H.R.
                                       U.S. inventory of three icebreakers, while the U.S. Navy owns one ice-
 5136), directed DOD to submit a
                                       strengthened tanker. The three U.S. icebreakers include the Healy, a
 report on Arctic Operations and the
 Northwest Passage. This report is     medium-duty icebreaker with an estimated 18 years of service life
 to include, among other things, an    remaining; the Polar Sea, a heavy-duty icebreaker expected to be
 assessment of the status of and       decommissioned in fiscal year 2011 because of engine problems; and
 need for icebreakers to determine     the Polar Star, a heavy-duty icebreaker expected to return to service in
 whether icebreakers provide           2013 with an estimated 7 to 10 years of service life remaining. The Arctic
 important or required mission         Report also states that DOD’s current needs are met by foreign-flagged
 capabilities to support Arctic        commercial contract vessels or through cooperation with Canada. It
 strategic national security           notes that in the future, assured access in the Arctic could be met by
 objectives, and an assessment of      means other than icebreakers, including submarines, aircraft, and ice-
 the minimum and optimal number        strengthened vessels. However, the Arctic Report does not provide an
 of icebreakers that may be needed.    assessment of the minimum or optimal number of icebreakers or other
                                       needed assets, although it does note that the U.S. Navy’s 2011
                                       Capabilities Based Assessment and a Department of Homeland Security
 Our Assessment:                       (DHS) effort to study icebreaking options in fiscal year 2012 will provide
 Partially Addressed                   further information about future U.S. icebreaking needs.
 Based on our assessment, we           Related Findings from Other Coast Guard and DHS Reports
 determined that DOD partially
 addressed this reporting element.     In July 2011, the Coast Guard provided the High Latitude Study to
                                       Congress, which concluded that the Coast Guard requires six heavy and
                                       four medium icebreakers to fulfill its statutory mission requirements and
 Figure 6: Polar Sea in Dry-Dock       the Navy’s presence requirements in the polar regions. The report also
                                       identified six scenarios for meeting needs in the Arctic that include
                                       capabilities beyond icebreakers, such as non-icebreaker cutters and
                                       aircraft. The DHS Office of the Inspector General also reported in
                                       January 2011 that the Coast Guard is unable to meet its current Arctic
                                       mission requirements with existing icebreaking resources, including
                                       providing DOD with assured access to the region, and without funding for
                                       new icebreakers or service life extensions for existing icebreakers with
                                       sufficient lead time, the U.S. will lose all polar icebreaking capabilities by
                                       2029. However, as we have previously reported, given the uncertainty
                                       about the Coast Guard’s long-term budget outlook, it may be a significant
                                       challenge for the Coast Guard to obtain these Arctic capabilities. 5 In
                                       November 2011, the Coast Guard provided to Congress a report that
                                       assessed options for recapitalizing its existing icebreaker fleet. The
                                       report found that the most cost effective option is to build two new heavy
                                       icebreakers, while performing minimal maintenance to keep the existing
                                       icebreakers operational while construction is taking place. However, the
                                       report noted that acquiring two new heavy icebreakers through the Coast
                                       Guard budget would have significant adverse impact on all Coast Guard
                                       activities, and concluded that the recapitalization of the polar icebreaker
                                       fleet cannot be funded within the Coast Guard budget.

                                       5
                                           GAO-10-870.

                                       Page 28                                            GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix III: Change in Summer Minimum
              Appendix III: Change in Summer Minimum Ice
              Extent from 2001 to 2011, Compared with the
              1979 to 2000 Median Minimum Ice Extent


Ice Extent from 2001 to 2011, Compared with
the 1979 to 2000 Median Minimum Ice Extent




              Page 29                                       GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix III: Change in Summer Minimum Ice
Extent from 2001 to 2011, Compared with the
1979 to 2000 Median Minimum Ice Extent




Page 30                                       GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix III: Change in Summer Minimum Ice
Extent from 2001 to 2011, Compared with the
1979 to 2000 Median Minimum Ice Extent




Page 31                                       GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix IV: Policy Guidance on the Arctic
              Appendix IV: Policy Guidance on the Arctic
              Identified in DOD’s Arctic Report



Identified in DOD’s Arctic Report




              Page 32                                      GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix V: Arctic Responsibilities under the
               Appendix V: Arctic Responsibilities under the
               Unified Command Plan: 2008 and 2011



Unified Command Plan: 2008 and 2011




               Page 33                                         GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix VI: Comments from the
             Appendix VI: Comments from the Department
             of Defense



Department of Defense




             Page 34                                     GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix VI: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 35                                     GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix VI: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 36                                     GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix VII: Comments from the
             Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
             of Homeland Security



Department of Homeland Security




             Page 37                                      GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security




Page 38                                      GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Appendix VIII: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix VIII: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  John H. Pendleton, (202) 512-3489 or pendletonj@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contact named above, key contributors to this report
Staff             were Suzanne Wren (Assistant Director), Susan Ditto, Nicole Harms,
Acknowledgments   Timothy Persons, Steven Putansu, Frank Rusco, Jodie Sandel, Amie
                  Steele, and Esther Toledo.

                  Stephen L. Caldwell (Director), Dawn Hoff (Assistant Director), and
                  Elizabeth Kowalewski contributed expertise on the Department of
                  Homeland Security and Coast Guard.




                  Page 39                                           GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
Related GAO Products
             Related GAO Products




             Coast Guard: Observations on Arctic Requirements, Icebreakers, and
             Coordination with Stakeholders. GAO-12-254T. Washington, D.C.:
             December 1, 2011.

             Climate Change Adaptation: Federal Efforts to Provide Information Could
             Help Government Decision Making. GAO-12-238T. Washington, D.C.:
             November 16, 2011.

             Coast Guard: Action Needed as Approved Deepwater Program Remains
             Unachievable. GAO-12-101T. Washington, D.C.: October 4, 2011.

             Polar Satellites: Agencies Need to Address Potential Gaps in Weather
             and Climate Data Coverage. GAO-11-945T. Washington, D.C.:
             September 23, 2011.

             Climate engineering: Technical status, future directions, and potential
             responses. GAO-11-71. Washington, D.C.: July 28, 2011.

             Homeland Defense: Actions Needed to Improve DOD Planning and
             Coordination for Maritime Operations. GAO-11-661. Washington, D.C.:
             June 23, 2011.

             Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: DOD Needs a Strategic,
             Risk-Based Approach to Enhance Its Maritime Domain Awareness.
             GAO-11-621. Washington, D.C.: June 20, 2011.

             Defense Management: Perspectives on the Involvement of the
             Combatant Commands in the Development of Joint Requirements.
             GAO-11-527R. Washington, D.C.: May 20, 2011.

             Coast Guard: Observations on Acquisition Management and Efforts to
             Reassess the Deepwater Program. GAO-11-535T. Washington, D.C.:
             April 13, 2011.

             Defense Management: Additional Cost Information and Stakeholder Input
             Needed to Assess Military Posture in Europe. GAO-11-131. Washington,
             D.C.: February 3, 2011.

             Coast Guard: Efforts to Identify Arctic Requirements Are Ongoing, but
             More Communication about Agency Planning Efforts Would Be
             Beneficial. GAO-10-870. Washington, D.C.: September 15, 2010.




             Page 40                                           GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
           Related GAO Products




           Environmental Satellites: Strategy Needed to Sustain Critical Climate and
           Space Weather Measurements. GAO-10-456. Washington, D.C.: April 27,
           2010.

           Interagency Collaboration: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight of
           National Security Strategies, Organizations, Workforce, and Information
           Sharing. GAO-09-904SP. Washington, D.C.: September 25, 2009.

           Defense Acquisitions: DOD’s Requirements Determination Process Has
           Not Been Effective in Prioritizing Joint Capabilities. GAO-08-1060.
           Washington, D.C.: September 25, 2008.

           Coast Guard: Condition of Some Aids-to-Navigation and Domestic
           Icebreaking Vessels Has Declined; Effect on Mission Performance
           Appears Mixed. GAO-06-979. Washington, D.C.: September 22, 2006.

           Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing the Government Performance
           and Results Act. GAO/GGD-96-118. Washington, D.C.: June 1996.




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           Page 41                                         GAO-12-180 Arctic Capabilities
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