Developing Military-Indigenous Relations: Reciprocal Opportunities or A Threat?


Photo: US Army

In viewing the Arctic through the unfolding competition for natural resources, one comes to understand that it is no so much China or Russia which are portrayed nowadays as alleged threats to the U.S./the West, as it’s the U.S./the West’s own attempt to achieve a revolutionary change in the post-Old Cold War both in the homeland and overseas, lobbying capitalism, markets, and trade.

Perhaps, this might not appear so evident for average consumer, but can be identified by specific actions of the U.S. while shaping an essentially cautious Arctic policy. Take an example of American green berets that engage, as we know, with indigenous communities in the Middle East, learn from them a lot, coupled with an emphasis on unconventional warfare. The Arctic case is different. The approach adopted – by, with and through the indigenous, civilizing them, advancing them to higher levels of living, helping them with sophisticated technologies.. – simply, does not work. Herein, such a revolutionary change agenda frightens the natives.

Some scenarios of military-indigenous interaction are proposed at the Air University (US Air Force), from the least to the most ambitious one. They apply to the Alaskan locals who represent approximately 15 percent of the total population of Alaska. The aim is twofold: to leverage natives’ ability to act as local eyes and ears for enhancing military Arctic capability, and to help address critical infrastructure issues in these communities.

So, an effective method could be to create training lanes prior to large-scale exercises, like Arctic Edge or Arctic Warrior, in partnership with the Indigenous communities to learn the foundational skills needed for the operational environment, as well as better prioritize the small-scale construction activities that accompany large exercises.

In a slightly more ambitious scenario, the lanes within exercises would prepare the indigenous that participate to perform the domain-awareness tasks, critical infrastructure defense, and logistical and mission support activities they would be well suited to perform in a real confrontation with strategic competitors.

The scenarios seem to apply not only to the Alaskan Arctic but also to other Arctic players.. Canadian Arctic or in the High North of the Nordic Countries, potentially as part of the Arctic drills and manoeuvres by NATO.



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