U.S. Navy needs to ‘speak softly and carry a big stick‘ in the Arctic

By Elías Thorsson - April 10, 2024
Vice Adm. Douglas G. Perry was promoted from Rear Adm. in January 2024. (US Navy 2nd Fleet, X)

Vice Adm. Douglas Perry, commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet, underscored the importance of maintaining a peaceful stance in the Arctic amidst heightened activity in the region, as reported by Military Times.

Speaking at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference, Perry emphasized a deliberate approach, stating, “We’re not seeking to militarize or provoke conflict in the Arctic.” He highlighted the necessity for a robust, yet peaceful, presence amidst increasing traffic and resource competition.

“Rather, the reverse is that we know that ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’ is an underlying need of free nations that value freedom in an area that will see more and more traffic and more and more competition for resources in the near future and throughout the future,” he added.

Former 2nd Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis echoed Perry’s sentiments, cautioning against neglecting the Arctic, which could pave the way for other powers, such as Russia, to assert dominance.

Highlighting Russia’s significant interests in the Arctic, Vice Adm. Angus Topshee of the Royal Canadian Navy urged against premature assumptions of aggressive intent.

“But if we aren’t present there, and if we aren’t continuing to build those partnerships, it will be a contested space,” Lewis said.

In 2021, the Navy released its “Blue Arctic” strategy, advocating for assertive yet peaceful engagement in the region.