Secretary of State John Kerry this week appointed former Coast Guard Commandant Bob Papp to the country’s Special Representative for the Arctic, installing an official with experience in Arctic operations.
Papp, who retired from the Coast Guard in May, last year unveiled the service’s strategy for developing a more expanded and persistent presence in the Arctic region. The Coast Guard provides temporary basing in the Arctic during the warm weather months, using a National Security Cutter (NSC) as a mobile command center and platform for air and maritime operations. The Coast Guard also operates an ice breaker in the Arctic at times.
“We set out to find the right American official for this assignment, a distinguished and senior high-level public servant with broad foreign policy experience and a passion for the Arctic,” Kerry said in a statement. “We have a great deal of work to do, and that work starts right away. Admiral Papp will soon travel to Alaska to consult with policymakers on the front lines of America’s Arctic state.”
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) lauded Papp’s appointment.
“With a dynamic region like the Arctic, you cannot have a Beltway bureaucrat dropped in for ‘on the job training,’ you need an individual with credibility and experience in the region and a proven ability to work with communities in the U.S. and circumpolar Arctic,” Murkowski said in a statement. “Admiral Papp’s knowledge base of the Arctic is as vast as the region itself.”
In announcing the Coast Guard’s Arctic strategy last year, Papp said at the time that “We will need improved aids to navigation in the future…and communications systems as well, both terrestrial and satellite comms. He also said the NSCs will play a key role and that better maps of the region are needed.
More countries and companies are exploring the Arctic for oil, and fishing and tourism are also expanding in the region, all due to receding ice that is enabling increased human activity.
“The Arctic region is the last global frontier and a region with enormous and growing geostrategic, economic, climate, environment, and national security implications for the United States and the world,” Kerry said.