Inside the Arctic Military Base at the Center of U.S.-Russia Tensions | WSJ

Inside the Arctic Military Base at the Center of U.S.-Russia Tensions | WSJ

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(dramatic music) – Decreased Arctic sea ice
has resulted in increased human activity, both from
Russian and from China. – We’re really on the front
lines of what I would consider kind of a red dawn or
Cold War type mindset. – The Russians are pushing and probing and seeing what they can achieve here. The U.S. is trying to figure out how best to defend against
that sort of aggression. – The need for the ice breaker is both from a commercial side, from a search and rescue side,
and from a military side. – 24/7, 365, we’re here
with pilots and maintainers, ready to get these airplanes
airborne on a moment’s notice. – [Michael] Melting sea
ice is changing the nature and politics of the Arctic Ocean. New sea passages opening
through international waters are spurring geopolitical competition for resources and strategic strongholds. Now, the U.S. military is
revising its arctic strategy. – During the Cold War, we
saw a significant amount of activity in the arctic, all the way from aircraft activity, for example flying the Russian bombers, as well as on both sides having a
increased military capability. We see some of that activity
happening again today. – So, what do the Russians actually do? – Well, we see multiple different things. We see them practicing attacks on the U.S. and Canada through the Arctic. – And what are they trying to achieve? – The first is clearly
strategic messaging, right? They’re flexing their
muscles, if you will. And then we also see
that they’re practicing. They’re exercises and training. – Is there a thought that
if there actually were a conflict in the U.S. and Russia that the bombers would
come over the Arctic, that that would be the
route to the United States? – Absolutely. As the closes avenue of approach, we do see that as a frontline of defense and something that we are making sure that we are able to defend. You can see the operating
environment in here is just incredibly harsh. This is actually from the Cold War era. These are radars that were
installed in that timeframe. But the basic system remains the same. You’ll get to see some of that. – I traveled north with the Air Force to see how the U.S. is confronting Russian military advances in the Arctic. This is Tin City, Alaska,
which is the closest point in the mainland United States to Russia. There’s a radar station here at Tin City. Its job is to look out for Russian bombers that might be trying to push
the limits of U.S. air space. Built during the Cold War, long-range radar stations like Tin City are suddenly on the front lines again. – I’ve been working for
the Alaska radar system for about 24 years. The radar looks for bogies,
unidentified aircraft, which just occurred like a month ago. – [Michael] What happened a month ago? – They spotted Russian
fighter planes and bombers. There was two of each. So I think the Russians,
they like to do that while they’re doing
their training missions so they see how quickly we respond. – The big landmass on the
left is Little Diomede Island. It’s U.S. territory. On the right, a little bit further away, is Big Diomede Island. That’s Russian territory. And way along there,
just above the waterline, you can see a strip; that’s Siberia. So this is really the front line in what is an increasing
competition for the Arctic. Commercial, military competition. Several times a year, the
long-range radar sites pick up Russian Bear bombers, sometimes escorted by jet fighters, penetrating the U.S. Air
Defense Identification Zone. That’s where the U.S. expects all planes to identify who they are. The Russians don’t always do that. U.S. jets scramble and fly alongside the Russians until they leave. Overseen by Lieutenant
General Tom Bussiere, long-range radar sites act as a tripwire to deploy U.S. jets. – We can’t do without ’em. There’s no gap in requirements
for our 24/7, 365 mission. – How are things changing,
and why are they changing? – The decreased arctic
sea ice has resulted in increased human activity, both
from Russia and from China. And that’s presented unique opportunities for national security concerns,
environmental concerns, as well as economic
concerns in the Arctic. The mission’s absolutely essential so that we can maintain
our situational awareness to defend North America. – Who sees the images that
are gathered by the radars? – All our long-rang radar sites provide information to our command and control facility
here in this building. And then, if necessary,
we’ll launch aircraft to go intercept anyone that’s
approaching our air space that hasn’t been properly identified. – The closest point of approach
to Russia is two miles away. We’re really on the front
lines of what I would consider kind of a red dawn or
Cold War type mindset. And in some way, the Cold War still exists here in Alaska every day. – [Michael] This year, Russian
bombers have doubled the pace at which they’ve attempted to penetrate the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone. Moscow’s embassy in Washington says Russian long-range
pilots make regular flights over neutral waters in the Arctic, flying in strict accordance
with international norms. Lieutenant Colonel John Krellner is one of the fighter pilots who scrambles to intercept Russian planes. – We’re standing at the combat alert cell with our F-22s that are on alert here. We are here 24/7, 365, ready
to respond to any incursion into our Air Defense Identification Zone by unidentified, foreign
military aircraft. – Tell me about the time that you went up to try to intercept a Russian plane. – We got the order to launch our aircraft. Clock someone off, we
got into our flight gear, hopped in the airplanes, taxied out right in front of here
of the combat alert cell, and we took off, and we positioned
ourselves into a position where we felt the Bears were
approaching, and we waited. And with our sensors we were
able to see and identify a couple of Russian Bear aircraft that were operating just on the west side of the Air Defense Identification Zone. That particular day, they
never crossed the line. So, between Alaska and Russia right here, this black line represents our Air Defense Identification Zone. These stars are all representative of intercepts that have
happened throughout the years. Many of these go back well
into the Cold War era. Those black dots represent
the long-range radar sites, like Tin City. – [Micheal] So, effectively,
here at this base there are guys who are looking at screens and interpreting what those bleeps are, and that then get passed on to the people who make the decision about
whether to scramble jets. – Absolutely. They’re identifying everything. And anything that’s not identified, they start to pull the string on that. – Now we’re heading to Eielson
Air Force Base, by Fairbanks. They’re holding aerial combat exercises, where half the planes are American. The other half of the
pilots are pretending to be enemy fighters, probably Russians. The airmen trained here
are some of the pilots who scramble to intercept Russian fighters on the Arctic border. Beyond sharpening their
dog fighting skills, these combat exercises also help them better understand the tactics
of their potential rivals. (jet whooshing) – [Pilot] How you feeling
there in the back? – [Michael] Colonel Shawn
Anger is Vice Commander of the 354th Fighter Wing
at Eielson Air Force Base, near Fairbanks, Alaska. – We try to replicate Russian tactics and Chinese tactics as best we can. The tactics that our
adversaries typically fly are more reliant on
controllers on the ground to direct their maneuvers. I would say the the U.S. Air Force has always been on the
leading edge of tactics, and we have tried to drive
the autonomy to the cockpit and allow the pilot, who’s there, present, to make as many decisions as he can, based on the information
he has available to them. – We thought that the Arctic
was a bit of a buffer. It provided us a little bit
of insolation from the threat. Currently, the one iceberg that we have is a very old polar star. I’ve been on it myself. And it’s clearly not giving us the capability and capacity we need to operate in the Arctic environment. But as we’ve seen the increased
activity in the Arctic, we are responding in kind
with a corresponding increase in the resources being applied to that. – [Michael] At the heart of
the new U.S. Arctic strategy is more: more ice breakers, which help keep commercial routes open and serve in rescue operations. More advanced planes. Russian pilots venturing toward
U.S. and Canadian air space can expect to see Eielson’s
new cutting edge F-35s pulling alongside them in the near future. One thing that isn’t changing? The Arctic rivalry between
the U.S. and Russia.

100 thoughts on “Inside the Arctic Military Base at the Center of U.S.-Russia Tensions | WSJ”

  1. Just a friendly reminder to our allies and friends. The "waters" (43 seconds) between many of the Islands from eastern Alaska across to Greenland are part of Canada and not "International" waters. Thank you.

  2. Closest mainland US? Dude just in the other side of the hill to the west of there is another Alaskan Village of Wales! Learn your geography!

  3. Communist policy of Russia and China always has the intention of expansion and aggression of countries, but do not face off with the US.

  4. Humans love invasions killing each other.
    Now each country spending maximum money on weapons defense …
    And poor ones are dying hungry.
    Still same story.
    Rich richer poor poorer.

  5. in kotzebue we have a advanced long ranged radar and we are really close to russia you can see it from here and the radar station is run by air force you

  6. That's tough duty up there. In the mid 70's I escorted several guys home from there because of mental health issues.

  7. I may sound like a crazy person but… why can’t we all join together no matter what different people are we are still humans and we all should work together and reach out and help country’s that are failing and note we are gonna need a new home soon if we don’t listen to Mother Earth 🌍

  8. Hey Boris?.. Yes comrad.. do you know where the us radar detection sites are located? No comrad.. but im about to get full intelligence on their locations? Really comrad! From where? From a web site on the americans youtube!!! you can find out anything on this youtube.

  9. Give me a brake and the USA ar not involving in melthing ice wath abaith the secret space program undher aice in Artica that is nothing??????????????😂😂😂😂😂😋

  10. When I saw all those little stars on that map I was wondering how many times the US flew into Russian territory.

  11. amazing how the US is trying to claim international territory that is not theirs, this is not a military effort to protect citizens its a cover-up in the search for more oil and gas found in the artic.

  12. Environmentalist: oh no the Arctic ice is melting we have to fix it

    USA GOVERNMENT: Or… we can make a new shipping route

    Environmentalist: 🤦‍♀️

  13. Trump will shut down the Alaskan defense zone and let the Russians in. The USA is falling apart. Can't wait for Trump to be removed from office before the Russians take over the world.

  14. Murica Moaning again about Russia protecting their borders!!!! Unbelievable!!!!!! Calling the Russians aggressors 😂😂

  15. Now it's look like USA says everything is ours that's wrong it belongs everyone who reach there by the way Russia and USA are in space also

  16. But we already have, extraterrestrial microbial life 😆🤦🏼‍♂️ that’s all we’ll ever admit to discovering.

  17. Bullshits..the Russians are doing what they're doing in theirs territory.. and whatever that they send some Tu-95 / 160 ..just to showing a muscles.
    How you can believe that they would attack USA ..
    They love USA ..
    its just like to play with a big friend ..

  18. ummmmm, does not Russia and China get to use the Earth like the USA does? How come the USA is saying Russia and China is probe defenses? does not the USA probe theirs as well. USA such a liar hypocrite country.

  19. if russia is flying in "strict compliance with international norms" then why the USA playing victim. USA wants a war.

  20. We send our planes along the Russian coast in the Black sea and they return the favour in the Arctic, that seems only fair.

  21. When you have a USAF Lt. saying they need more Icebreakers, who are operated by the US Coast Guard, that's a surprising statement.

  22. Those Russian "bear" bombers look so obsolete. Not much of a threat to USA military; they're also very easily detectable.

  23. There is no explanation as to how "melting sea ice" is contributing to the so-called increase in Russian activity. It is just a ridiculous pc assertion with no basis in fact. The Russians have been doing these things since "well back into the Cold War era" as an individual in the video even says. Nothing new here, and certainly nothing new here due to melting sea ice. Pretty disappointing WSJ.

  24. Pointless report. If Russia and the US ever went to war, you won't watch on CNN or follow it on the Internet, we'd all be inhaling radioactive dust or already pulverized. Thanks for playing.

  25. Lol global warming is literally being looked at by the UNITED STATES MILITARY as a new threat to american soil, but it's a hoax right you morons?

  26. America, always demonising Russia to look good in the eyes of the world but we see you. You are the only reason why there is instability everywhere….war war war war, that's all you know.

  27. Russia is the aggressor but the Americans has more overseas military bases than anybody else in the world from where they poke & police every countries internal issue. This what we call "The Great American Idiot's Logic"!!!

  28. It's all just pissing contests. Other countries verbally proclaim where THEY believe their waters and airspace are while the US only recognizes what they believe to be accurate. So other countries scramble their defenses to meet US craft and the US does the same to them. In the US's defense, China and Russia like to change the rules by building islands in the middle of international waters and then say their airspace now extends 200 miles all the way around them. That bs is currently happening because of China and it's going to cause a HUGE war one day. The citizens of all countries could/would get along perfectly if it weren't for their governments causing all the problems. If all countries just played by the same rules, at least we could all co-exist without conflict.

  29. This is all climate change is about. Through 60 years of make PATHWAYS with huge icebreakers. Now all this land is up for grabs imagine that?

  30. Thank you to all the man and women for protecting us and our liberty. I'm thankful for all what you all do. I wish, I could help out and if the day comes to do my part, I'm more than willing to do what ever it takes, even if it means sacrificing my life for my country. Thank you and GOD bless. #USA1 #USAMilitary #Freedom #HumanRights #NoSympathyForEvil #NoMoreEvilInThisWorld #F22 #F16 #F15 #A10 #KC135 #Thankful #LoveNotHate #WeAreTheGoodGuys #Bless

  31. Now that We The People The American Patriots have one of our Greatest American President Ever who is giving our entire Military everything they need now and for the next 50 years will continue Keeping All American Patriots Safe. So Thank You President Trump 👍 🇺🇸 and Thank You our Military, Border Control an ICE For Just Doing Your Job 👍 🇺🇸👍 🇺🇸👍 🇺🇸🙏

  32. I say let Russia sell there gas and have international law in the water ways for the whole world to navigate peace is the only way or we will keep destroying are self

  33. How come they aren't watching that Pacific ocean they have new subs 3 for each side of are country the east an west cost will go first ..

  34. Russia 🇷🇺 and USA 🇺🇸 do not trust each other but would not fight each other ,they have respect ✊ to each other

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