The US Army is currently working on the first Arctic-focused doctrine in over 50 years. Known as Army Techniques Publication 3-90.96, Arctic and Extreme Cold Weather Operations, this manual is expected to be released in mid-2024.
The primary aim of this manual is to equip Soldiers and leaders with the knowledge and techniques needed to overcome the Arctic environment and navigate temperatures as cold as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Arctic and extreme cold weather operations are about more than being able to survive, you have to be able to thrive,” said Capt. Edward A. Garibay, the lead doctrine author for the publication with the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate.
“As the Arctic warms from climate change, it’s going to become more and more accessible in the coming decades and take on new importance. We have to be ready to accomplish the mission in such an environment. This doctrine will help our Soldiers do that.”
The upcoming publication will have a tactical focus and will aid soldiers in utilizing their existing knowledge and experience and apply it to the Arctic and Subarctic regions. The publication will explain many unique and often counterintuitive aspects of the region and the precautions that soldiers must take to adjust their operations accordingly.
For instance, during December, the sun may not rise at all; GPS and satellites can be unreliable due to solar storms; metals and plastics can become brittle and break easily; and batteries have a significantly shorter lifespan.
“One of the problems we face now is that we have a lot of localized knowledge that isn’t easily shared across the Army,” said Garibay. “We have pockets of individuals and units that are experts, but their knowledge is only available in local [standard operating procedures] and only passed down from one command to the next. We’re consolidating all that knowledge in one place and providing a foundation for everyone to build on.”
The CADD Special Doctrine Division is responsible for developing doctrine for cold weather operations. They have been conducting extensive research on Arctic and extreme cold weather operations for over a year.
Their research includes training at the Northern Warfare Training Center, referencing historical records, and consulting with other Arctic nations such as Canada, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark.
The 11th Airborne Division in Alaska has been one of their primary resources, playing a critical role in developing doctrine. Garibay stated that their continued innovation and expertise has been invaluable. The 11th Airborne Division has taken an active role in writing Arctic doctrine, staffing revisions, and providing subject matter experts.