The Arctic theatre

Presumably this applies to the Russians and Chinese too?
China don't have any Arctic territory, so none of this applies to their army.

The conditions in Arctic Russia are very similar to those in US territory.

Has armoured warfare even taken place in an Arctic environment? Is it really a place for vehicles that are sixty or more tonnes?

Since this is in response to a US army paper on operating in Alaska, I'll just quote from the document itself.

Lacking the climate- moderating effect of the warm Gulf Stream, the North American Arctic hosts a much harsher environment than the European Arctic and significantly less road and maritime infrastructure. Base infrastructure materials across the region need to have high thermal efficiency; long-term durability; tolerance to repeated freeze and thaw cycles; and resistance to permafrost degradation. Infrastructure in many austere locations has already deteriorated due to extreme environmental factors. It can also complicate force sustainment operations as roadways, sea ports, and airfields are potentially rendered inoperable. The loss of sea ice index opens up new waterways that can allow increased access to and transit through the region. This could require additional forces, equipment capability, and infrastructure investments to secure the U.S. homeland and the northern avenues of approach.

The Arctic, however, is not challenging solely due to extreme cold temperatures. In many instances, mobility is actually at its highest state in the winter. Summer poses significant challenges for many wheeled vehicles, while the most challenging period is the spring thaw when ground movement becomes impossible across considerable swaths of territory. Regardless of season, mobility by air is critical to Army operations. Today and for the foreseeable future, the Arctic presents a harsh and demanding environment for Army operations and activities.

A multi-domain capable Army creates new options for joint force commanders to achieve their missions. The Arctic, however, poses some particular challenges. The significant distances, lack of commercial and military infrastructure, and harsh climate have historically made Arctic campaigns contests of relatively small and dispersed forces operating at the limits of operational feasibility. This small margin of error has generally had two implications. First, the quality of individuals and units has often been decisive. The side best able to overcome challenges has tended to prevail. For this reason, the mindset or ethos of Arctic units has been an even more important element than any specialized equipment. Second, the environment favours the defence more heavily than in other climates. It has been difficult for attacking forces to achieve numerical superiority without pushing sustainment to its limits. The loss of one key logistics node, the failure of one convoy, the destruction of one critical bridge, or the stubborn resistance of one strong point along a line of communications has brought many Arctic operations to an unsuccessful close.

The US have historically not taken operations in the Arctic very seriously. Their main military interest in Alaska has been as a location for radar stations and as a transit point across the Pacific (remember that the earth is a globe, it's not flat). They generally count on the remoteness of it for defence.

The Americans currently appear to be going through one of their periodic spates of interest in the Arctic. Whether that will be sustained is a good question. Here's a previous opinion.

A seasoned former Finnish army officer hinted at the challenge this situation posed for the United States when, after assisting with a small exercise in Alaska in 1948, he observed, “American infantry winter warfare ability is such that unless a miracle happens, the Russian Ski Divisions will cut these infantry divisions to pieces without mercy.”
 

Yokel

LE
SOLVING COMMUNICATIONS GAPS IN THE ARCTIC WITH BALLOONS

Defined by their remoteness and extreme climate, the polar regions present an array of tactical and operational challenges to US forces as sea icing, repeated thawing and freezing cycles, permafrost, and frequent storms can complicate otherwise simple operations. However, often overlooked are the challenges to communications, which are critical to Navy and Coast Guard vessels operating in the polar regions. Perhaps once possible to ignore, these challenges are becoming more pressing as the Marines, Navy and Coast Guard increase their operations at higher latitudes and place more emphasis on the arctic and more arguments are made for sending Marines and soldiers to the arctic for training and presence. In order for US naval forces to compete in the polar regions and fight if needed, the military needs to invest in persistent and reliable communications capabilities. One solution is high-altitude balloons.

Arctic experts have long understood the difficulty of communicating in the arctic, noting that “While communicating today might be easier than it was for Commodore Perry 111 years ago, it’s not that much better.” Arctic communications are especially difficult for a number of reasons. Satellite-based options are limited or nonexistent because the vast majority of satellites maintain equatorial orbits, which means the polar region’s extreme latitudes fall outside satellite range. Though a few satellites follow non-equatorial orbits, there are simply not enough to provide continuous connectivity at the bandwidth needed for modern operations.

There are also natural barriers to communications in the arctic. The ionosphere covering the polar regions has a high-level of electron precipitation, which is the same characteristic that produces the Northern Lights. However, this interferes with and degrades the high-frequency (HF) radios that the military normally uses for long-range communications in the absence of satellites. Additionally, the extreme climate and cold weather in the arctic presents another challenge to communications infrastructure such as antennas and ground stations. Arctic conditions make it harder to access and maintain ground arrays, batteries expire faster in colder temperatures, and equipment can easily be buried by falling snow and lost.

Finally, the near complete lack of civilian infrastructure complicates arctic communications. The polar regions comprise about eight percent of the earth’s surface, accounting for over 10 million square miles of land on which only about 4 million people live. Most are clustered in small communities, resulting in sparse commercial communications infrastructure across the region. However, persistent and reliable communications are absolutely essential for the successful employment of maritime forces in the arctic.

One solution is for naval forces to use high-altitude balloons that provide temporary communications capabilities. Balloons are far cheaper than satellites and much more responsive. They can be quickly deployed where coverage is needed and fitted with communications payloads specific to the mission. They are also low-cost and effective enough that they can be used not only in operations but also in training at austere locations.


Cont..//
 
SOLVING COMMUNICATIONS GAPS IN THE ARCTIC WITH BALLOONS

Defined by their remoteness and extreme climate, the polar regions present an array of tactical and operational challenges to US forces as sea icing, repeated thawing and freezing cycles, permafrost, and frequent storms can complicate otherwise simple operations. However, often overlooked are the challenges to communications, which are critical to Navy and Coast Guard vessels operating in the polar regions. Perhaps once possible to ignore, these challenges are becoming more pressing as the Marines, Navy and Coast Guard increase their operations at higher latitudes and place more emphasis on the arctic and more arguments are made for sending Marines and soldiers to the arctic for training and presence. In order for US naval forces to compete in the polar regions and fight if needed, the military needs to invest in persistent and reliable communications capabilities. One solution is high-altitude balloons.

Arctic experts have long understood the difficulty of communicating in the arctic, noting that “While communicating today might be easier than it was for Commodore Perry 111 years ago, it’s not that much better.” Arctic communications are especially difficult for a number of reasons. Satellite-based options are limited or nonexistent because the vast majority of satellites maintain equatorial orbits, which means the polar region’s extreme latitudes fall outside satellite range. Though a few satellites follow non-equatorial orbits, there are simply not enough to provide continuous connectivity at the bandwidth needed for modern operations.

There are also natural barriers to communications in the arctic. The ionosphere covering the polar regions has a high-level of electron precipitation, which is the same characteristic that produces the Northern Lights. However, this interferes with and degrades the high-frequency (HF) radios that the military normally uses for long-range communications in the absence of satellites. Additionally, the extreme climate and cold weather in the arctic presents another challenge to communications infrastructure such as antennas and ground stations. Arctic conditions make it harder to access and maintain ground arrays, batteries expire faster in colder temperatures, and equipment can easily be buried by falling snow and lost.

Finally, the near complete lack of civilian infrastructure complicates arctic communications. The polar regions comprise about eight percent of the earth’s surface, accounting for over 10 million square miles of land on which only about 4 million people live. Most are clustered in small communities, resulting in sparse commercial communications infrastructure across the region. However, persistent and reliable communications are absolutely essential for the successful employment of maritime forces in the arctic.

One solution is for naval forces to use high-altitude balloons that provide temporary communications capabilities. Balloons are far cheaper than satellites and much more responsive. They can be quickly deployed where coverage is needed and fitted with communications payloads specific to the mission. They are also low-cost and effective enough that they can be used not only in operations but also in training at austere locations.


Cont..//
"Near complete lack of civilian infrastructure" for satellites in the Arctic?


There area also multiple fibre optic cable projects either building or proposed.
 
There is also a new Canadian satellite project in the works.
Enhanced Satellite Communication Project - Polar

The Enhanced Satellite Communication Project – Polar (ESCP-P) will provide the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) narrowband and wideband satellite communications (SATCOM), essential for Beyond Line Of Sight communications in the Arctic. The project was initially part of the Tactical Narrowband SATCOM (TNS) but the Arctic SATCOM capability for the Canadian North and Joint Task Force North Area of Responsibility was moved to this project.

ESCP-P will provide guaranteed access to wideband and low-capacity UHF narrowband SATCOM MILSATCOM capability in Canada’s North 65°N - 90°N latitude, completing global SATCOM access (see Mercury Global and Tactical Narrowband SATCOM – Geosynchronous Coverage (TNS-GEO) Projects).

It's still in the project definition stage, with implementation to start in 2023 and initial delivery planned for 2028. Cost is somewhere between 1 and 5 billion dollars
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Comrade Colonel
Da?
Whats this big ballon on the radar?
Its a NATO comms balloon over one of their ships.
 

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