Canada continues to assert its military presence in its northernmost boundaries. Operation Nunalivut which ran in the Arctic from April 6-26, is one of three sovereignty exercises conducted each year by Canadian Forces (CF). This year's joint maneuvers included, "the first landing and takeoff of an Air Force CC-177 Globemaster III aircraft at CFS Alert, from a gravel and ice covered airfield and the first CF dive in the high Arctic, which was the longest sustained ice dive operation in CF history. In addition, the Arctic Response Company Group conducted concurrent training with the Canadian Rangers for the first time in the Arctic, while a team of nine Regular and Reserve Force Signallers tested a new series of Iridium, high frequency and satellite communication systems." As part of ongoing efforts by Canada-Denmark to strengthen diplomatic and security relations in the Arctic, the operation featured, "combined training with the Danish military's SIRIUS Dog Sledge patrol." An agreement reached between Russia and Norway over the long-disputed area in the Barents Sea has also prompted Canada to take steps to resolve conflicting Arctic offshore boundary claims with Denmark and the United States.
In May, Canada and Denmark signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will deepen defence and security cooperation in the Arctic, "through enhanced consultation, information exchange, visits, and exercises." The annual joint Canadian Forces Operation Nanook will take place in the high Arctic from August 6-28. It is significant as it will include ships from the Danish and American navies, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard. Canada also recently announced measures designed to further protect and defend its northern sovereignty. "Beginning July 1, the Government of Canada is requiring that foreign and domestic vessels of a certain size report to the Canadian Coast Guard if travelling through Canada's Arctic waters. This new mandatory requirement will ensure vessels report information such as identity, position and destination to the Canadian Coast Guard." There has been much contention over the Northwest Passage. Canada maintains that it is an internal waterway and thus falls under its control, but the U.S. argues that it is an international strait. There are calls for the U.S and Canada to essentially suspend their disagreement over the northern sea route and assume joint continental management and security of the Arctic.
A new report titled Open Canada: A Global Positioning Strategy for a Networked Age put out by the Canadian International Council, contains a section on Arctic issues. One of its key proposals is that, "Canada share responsibility with the U.S. for control of North America's Arctic waters and skies through an expanded NORAD. This extends to search-and-rescue as well as joint monitoring, air patrols and icebreaker operations." The policy paper emphasizes, "Canada has a responsibility to beef up its security capabilities in the Arctic, but it is not going to win an arms race, if it comes to that." It also admits, "closer CanadaU.S. security cooperation in the Arctic could place strains on other members of the Arctic Council. But a bilateral security arrangement between well-established defence partners in their sector of the Arctic is justifiable. It serves our national interest in the North and deepens our relationship with the U.S. and will ultimately be accepted by the others." Not only does this threaten Canadian sovereignty and expand military integration with the U.S., but it encourages the further militarization of the Arctic.
In the last number of years, Russia has asserted itself in the high Arctic by sending bomber patrols, as well as warships and submarines into the region. At times, Russian and Canadian rhetoric in regards to Arctic sovereignty, has been reminiscent of the Cold War era. Increasing diplomatic efforts is the key to building the foundation for more multilateral cooperation in the area. Unfortunately, it appears as if the military build-up of the far North will continue. Canada has taken on the role of an Arctic power, but with the assurance of U.S. and NATO support. Enhanced security collaboration between U.S-Canada and other northern allies is an essential part of America's Arctic strategy. Military expansion could limit attempts by other nations to gain more influence in the region. The scramble for resources and the further militarization of the Arctic make it a potential flashpoint for conflict.