Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 389

Commentary The Arctic Coast Guard Forum: A Welcome & Important Step Rebecca Pincus In October 2015, the eight Arctic states will send their heads of coast guard or equivalent official delegation to the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where the Commandant of the Coast Guard will host a ceremonial summit and the Arctic Coast Guard Forum (ACGF) will be formally launched. A terms of reference document that outlines the basic framework of the ACGF will be finalized at the summit signatory meeting, and this will serve as the foundation for a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC). The MOC will become the non-binding document that establishes the ACGF as an international body with rules and organizational responsibilities. This moment will mark the advancement of a commitment on the part of all Arctic states to cooperate at the operational level in the maritime Arctic. The operational level is where the rubber meets the road: where missions are executed afloat and in port, where helicopters are scrambled, inspections carried out, and incident response units deployed. While high-level diplomacy gets more attention, the kind of inter-service relationship-building at the operational level promised by the ACGF can lead to immediate benefits to Arctic communities and stakeholders. The ACGF is a welcome step. At a time when the region is facing unprecedented challenges, including warming that is occurring at a rapid pace, the establishment of the ACGF is a concrete sign that Arctic nations are committed to cooperation in the North, despite other differences. Recognizing that increasing access to the Arctic Ocean will increase the demands placed upon Arctic states for the Rebecca Pincus is Visiting Professor at the United States Coast Guard Academy.