Four U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers and about 200 personnel are being sent from the Dice Air Force base in Texas to the Orland air base in Norway, and within the next three weeks work on international airspace from the Arctic Circle and northwestern Russia will begin, according to several security officials.
Until now, military operations on the Arctic have been largely conducted from the United Kingdom. Officials say the movement of forces closest to Russia means the United States can act quickly toward Russia’s occupation.
“Operational readiness and our ability to support and respond quickly to allies and allies is critical to the success of the United States,” said General Jeff Harijan, commander of the U.S. Air Force in Europe and Africa.
For the past several months, the Pentagon has been operating similar P-52 bombing missions in the Middle East, a way to demonstrate the United States’ ability to quickly move military assets to tense areas. These bombing trips take weeks to plan, so officials say the Norwegian deployment has been in place for some time.
In the militarization of the Arctic region, the Department of Defense is deeply concerned about Russian military action to stop possible access to natural resources and maritime access to the Arctic.
“Recent Russian investments in the Arctic include offensive aircraft and coastal missile systems,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett warned during the Trump administration last summer, revealing how the Air Force would handle the Arctic. Barrett pointed out that the United States considers Russia to be increasingly maintaining its own Arctic access, with nearly 25% of GDP coming from hydrocarbons north of the Arctic Circle.
Last month, a Russian warplane crashed near the USS Donald Cook, destroying the navy in international waters of the Black Sea.
The U.S. Navy usually travels on that water, sending messages that maintain maritime access to the region.
The meeting was relatively small, but the Navy issued a statement saying: “The unwanted proximity of Russia’s Su-24 operations is contrary to good air and international norms and standards. The U.S. Sixth Fleet is committed to maintaining freedom of movement within international waters. Countries in the Black Sea.”