Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Which one does not belong: The Fulda Gap, Strait of Hormuz, Northwest Passage?

Answer appears at end.

What do these geographical features have in common: The Fulda Gap, Strait of Hormuz, Northwest Passage?

You may have recognized two of the more familiar strategic choke points of the past and present. The Fulda Gap was of strategic significance to Cold War military planners, who staged armies ready to impede a hypothetical advance of Warsaw Pact troops into central Europe.

The Strait of Hormuz, as narrow as 21 miles, carries petroleum shipments between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf to open ocean. Roughly 20 percent of today's world's oil supplies pass through the strait.

Now, there is a new, strategic chokepoint. The Northwest Passage is the future sea route through the Arctic coast of North America connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Resolute Bay, about 370 miles south of the North Pole, will be home to a new army training center for cold-weather fighting that will house up to 100 military personnel. The new deep-sea port will be built for navy and civilian purposes on the north end of Baffin Island. source

Astounding ...

Denmark said scientists would embark Sunday on a month long expedition seeking evidence that the Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,240-mile underwater mountain range, is attached to the Danish territory of Greenland, making it a geological extension of the Arctic island. ibid

1/5th of the world's undiscovered oil is buried under the Arctic. With the melting of ice, how soon can drilling for oil begin under the northeast shelf? At current rates of melting, drilling can begin on Greenland's northeast shelf by 2022. source

Fight for the Top of the World This summer, however, saw something new: for the first time in recorded history**, the Northwest Passage was ice-free all the way from the Pacific to the Atlantic. ... The Arctic has never been immune from politics; during the Cold War, U.S. and Soviet submarines navigated its frigid waters. ... In early September, Russian bombers launched cruise missiles during Arctic exercises. ...Sagalevich piloted one of two submersibles to a depth of 13,100 ft. (4,301 m), planted the Russian flag to "stake the place for Russia," ... Russia is already a dominant force in the Arctic; it has the world's largest fleet of icebreakers and long experience ... source

** prior to the Little Ice Age the climate was not only warmer than it is today, but Arctic sea-levels were much higher than today.[30] Land bordering the Northwest Passage has risen upwards of 20 meters (60 ft) in the centuries sincee Viking times. source

New Canadian Toll Route?

'Cold war' for Arctic spoils heats up as multiple countries stake claims The prize for Canada is clear. As global warming melts the Northwest Passage -which is navigable only during a slim window in the summer - the waters are exposing unexplored resources, and becoming an attractive shipping route. Commercial ships can shave off some 2,480 miles from Europe to Asia compared with the current routes through the Panama Canal. source

Answer: The Fulda Gap does not belong. Submarines have performed missions in both of the other two areas since the 1950s. Submarine missions by several nations in the artic have ostensibly been expanded to entail special warfare operations, and stuff that cannot be discussed.

Update September 27, 2007 1:39 a.m. EST Navy Prepares To Release New Maritime Strategy: Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy, Vice Adm. John G. Morgan said, "America must contend with several new factors, including climate change, which is responsible for the opening of the long fabled Northwest Passage, a sea route through the Arctic Ocean along the North American coast." [bold added]

Submarines are always silent and strange.



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