Arctic Council, EU, NATO on Agenda as Military Leaders Addressed Arctic Security Issues

Military forces in the Arctic

The ASFR was established in 2010 by Norway and the United States and is co-chaired by the two countries. The forum promotes regional understanding and Arctic cooperation among military forces that operate in and around the Arctic region. (Photo: Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvaret).

Military leaders from 11 nations discussed current and emerging High North security issues during the annual Arctic Security Forces Roundtable. The participantes discussed, among others, the roles of the Arctic Council, the European Union and NATO.

The Arctic Security Forces Roundtable (ASFR) is a military-to-military forum at the flag-and-general officer level, which offers a venue for discussing security issues in the Arctic. This year's meeting was to take place in Rovaniemi, Finland, however as the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the plans, discussions took place online last week, a press release from U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) states. 

"The roundtable serves a critical role in ensuring that each participating senior military leader representing some 11 nations gains a clearer understanding of the Arctic. This roundtable, working in concert with the full range of bilateral and multilateral exercises and operations that occur throughout the year, helps support a secure, stable Arctic region where nations work cooperatively to address security challenges of collective concern", said Commodore Solveig Krey, Defence Staff Norway’s Assistant Chief of Staff Operations.

ASFR is currently the only military forum focused on the Arctic region’s security dynamics and architecture, as well as the full range of military capabilities and cooperation.

Russia has not participated in the annual meetings since 2014 as Western sanctions following Russia's annexation of Crimea preclude its participation.

The participants from 11 European and North American nations that took part in the meeting discussed the roles of the Arctic Council, European Union and NATO, and those organizations’ aims of fostering governance and cooperation in the region. Each participating nation detailed its own national Arctic strategy, senior representatives from NATO presented the alliance’s current Arctic outlook, and the participants addressed important transportation and environmental issues, EUCOM writes. 

“The amount of focused attention and activity – commercially, militarily, environmentally – in the Arctic, along with the region’s continued strategic importance, makes this high-level military gathering an imperative for us. From the issues we discuss to the relationships we continue to foster and forge, this roundtable is truly an invaluable forum for our nations”, said U.S. Army Major General Charles Miller, U.S. European, Command’s (USEUCOM) director of plans, policy, strategy and capabilities. 

This article is updated

Also read