A more assertive US in the Arctic : Aligned or at odds with the Norwegian security policy?
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- Mastergrader 
After years of being reduced to the periphery of US awareness, the Arctic has regained relevance in Washington as great power competition is once again at the forefront of US strategy. As a result, the US Department of Defense published a new Arctic Strategy in 2019, along with several corresponding sub-department strategies between 2020 and 2021. These documents represent a significant shift from previous versions, setting high ambitions for US military presence in the region. Norway finds itself wedged between the strategic interests of Russia and the US, and has historically pursued a delicate balance between reassuring its neighbor in the east, while also striving to attain security guarantees from allies in the west. This study aims to determine if the US strategies are aligned with Norwegian security policy, and, if not, identify points of divergence and possible implications for Norway. It will approach these questions by conducting a document study identifying core components of Norwegian security policy and US strategy, before the findings are compared and discussed to answer the research questions. The study finds that US strategy is partially aligned with Norwegian security policy. The two allies share several interests on the strategic as well as tactical levels, such as training and infrastructure development. Some notable differences also exist, however. Most fundamentally, diverging perspectives on what constitutes stability, and what threatens it, result in very different approaches to security in the region. Whereas Washington emphasizes deterrence and competition, Oslo adheres to a long-standing ‘dual policy’ aimed at keeping regional tensions as low as possible by balancing deterrence and reassurance. This produces several challenges for Norway as US interests and ambitions in the region grow, and may serve to reduce Norwegian political and military room to maneuver. A more assertive US in the Arctic might force Oslo to reaffirm or reassess elements of its dual policy, if it is to remain a successful basis for future Norwegian security policy.
Dissertation Master of Arts in War Studies