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tv   [untitled]    March 12, 2015 9:00pm-9:31pm EDT

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i have a limited amount of knowledge. i started out my coast guard career in alaska. i was let us say, academically challenged at the academy and in those days we selected our first assignment based upon your class standing. and there were not many choices left when it came down to me and i saw a ship in alaska and i said, that looks exciting. alaska kid from connecticut going to alaska? and the ship was home-ported in a place called adak, alaska and i didn't know where adak was but superintendented exceeding itch went back to my room and broke out an atlas, and -- do this -- open up an atlas and usually alaska will cover two pages in the atlas. except that down at the bottom there's an insert that has part of the alaskan peninsula and then the first couple of eye
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lined of the aleutian chain, and then another insert covers the rest of the aleutian chain, and adak was in the second insert. suffice to say my fiancee at the time was not too pleased. however, afterwards after going tout adak i think it got us off to a great start in terms 0 our marriage, and she is with me 39 years later so it probably was a good experience. i learned a lot about being a sailor in alaska. first of all you have to deal with what i call the tyranny of time and distance, and we're still challenged with that today. going back to my coast guard position, the nearest air station that goes -- that can fly helicopters for search and rescue in the north slope is 850 miles away in kodiak alaska. that tyranny of time and distance, and when you're
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sailing ships up there when you have to refuel and the nearest port is 800, 900 miles away you can get to for a fuel it causes you to be cautious and concerned and then the weather you have to deal with up there. i have seen the worst sustained weather of my entire career was during my first two years in alaska. i've seen weather in the caribbean that lasts 24 or 48 hours. they call them hurricanes down there. insure -- the same weather condition in the bering sea they call normal weather and it lasts for weeks on end. the challenges that i faced serving and learning as a sailor up in alaska stay with me my entire career and then drove me to be very interested about 36 years later, when i became the commandant of the coast guard. of course at that time it was almost forced upon us because there were a lot of coast guard
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equities involved in the opening of the arctic and we began a process of coming up with a coast guard arctic strategy and at the end of that and after trying to campaign for resources to better prepare our country for what was happening in the arctic, i was about to retire on may 30th of last year, and on the evening of the 29th secretary john 'er called me and asked -- kev kerry asked me and if i would come to the state department in preparation for the arctic council. i didn't have to hesitate. asked to serve your country by a senior official of the government, in an area i was passionate about there was no decision involved. i automatically said yes and here i am seven or eight months later, and i'm happy with the decision and excited about take thing chairmanship in a month here. so, as i came into the job, the big task was organizing our u.s.
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program for the arctic. what i was very pleased to find was there was an awful lot of work that had transpired in preparation. in fact if nothing else, what we had to do was pair it -- pear it down package and it mark it is the way i describe it, and we have been about that process. there was something called the arctic policy group, the a.p.g. that works across the interagency and consults with alaska. we have a senior arctic official julie, who has been working in that job for ten years, and she has a lot of good contacts, not only with the other countries but also with groups in alaska. and what i found during my career as an photographer and as a ship captain is one of the most important things you do in terms of developing policy, programs, or carrying out a mission, you listen to people. so we set about the business of listening to others and forming our program and packaging it together. we came up with a rough idea for a theme, which is one arctic
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shared opportunities, challenges and responsibilities. and if nothing else comes across during our chairmanship, that's the theme i want everybody to remember because it was one arctic not just shared by the eight countries of the council, but it's part of our world things that go on in the arctic impact the rest of the world, and we want to develop interest in the other countries about the arctic as well. then we had this collection of projects litly scores -- literally scores of projects and we started lumping them into categories. one that appealed to me was arctic ocean safety security and stewardship. in fact safety security and stewardship is a theme we use within the coast guard but it's really the components of maritime governance. when you look at the arctic when you look down from the pole, a view of the earth that not too many people look at, what you see is the predominant feature is an ocean.
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a lot of is it covered by ice. in fact there are certain times of the year where it's all covered with ice but it's opening up. there are new maritime routes developing, and it's interesting, it's exciting, and i think it's going change the world in the way we conduct commerce over time. but once again a maritime environment and the first responsibility of a maritime nation is to provide for the safety and security of mariners and ships that will approach its shores and have to transit, have rescue capability aids to navigation other, things in order to assure safety of navigation and navigation and maritime trade contributes to prosperity of a country. and maritime trade and commerce will contribute to the prosperity of alaska and the arctic. it's already happening in other portions of the arctic and we need to be prepared for it as we go along. so we're heavy on the emphasis on arctic ocean safety, security and stewardship. hopefully everybody has read
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some of the details of the programs. we're going emphasize search and rescue, and exercising the search and rescue agreement. we're going to emphasize exercising the marine oil spill preparedness and response agreement executed by the eight arctic circles countries and then another a number of other projects that will move forward. the second category is improving the economic and living conditions of the people of the north. a series of projects that go from renewable energy, all the way too -- to a review of telecommunication capabilities within the arctic. the third is adapting to climate change. very important. we're not going cure climate change if within the arctic council, but we need to draw attention to the effects of climate change, and also come up with ways to mitigate and adopt to -- adapt to it, to hopefully protect the environment of the
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arctic to demonstrate to the rest of the world that what goes on in the rest of the world affects the arctic and what goes on in the arctic affects the rest of the world. anymore boston, massachusetts and people in washington dc probably don't need to be reminded that some of the changes occurring are drastically changing our weather pattern. we need to be about the business of thinking how to change and it helping people that do live within that environment, to adapt to it. so we lumped those things together and then set about the process of listening to people. the most important place to go to was alaska. so last august our team went up to alaska and we met with the full range of people starting first of all with our alaskan natives in various venues. we met with environmental groups, other ngos. we met with the oil industry. we met with alaska legislators
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and everything in between. we took their input, went to washington refined it, and then send it to secretary kerry for his conceptual approval. then we took the program back to alaska coinciding with the event wow peek in the arctic," and we diddleys 'king sessions -- -- we went to nome, and barrow and refined our program. we projected wouldn't speak becomely about the program until we had done the listening sessions, and i can't remember the exact date but there was an event that heather conly at csis had scheduled which was passing
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the torch between canada and the you'd, and that was to be my first opportunity to speak look by about our arctic council program. then i was asked to speak at the center for american progress before the event. so i sort of used those as markers. for those who are phenomenon with the center for american progress, they have an environmental focus and when i spoke to them, afterwards they said admiral, you got it. you recognize the importance of the climate, you recognize the important of the environment. you're a little strong on that security and safety stuff on the other side, but that's okay. looks like a balanced program. i went to csis the next day and spoke to them say. they'd, you got it. you got that security stuff the arctic ocean safety and everything else. you're a little strong on the climate change and environment
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but it is a good balanced program. so i figured, okay, we hit the sweet spot. we're doing good here. and that has followed through crease the -- across the board. the next step was to ticket internationally so i -- it coincided at that time with something called arctic circle. the event was being hailed in asialand, the -- in iceland, the first time i met ambassador gear -- hart, and 1300 people from 39 countries in iceland in lousy weather -- no offense, sir, but it was rainy cold blowing walking into to head
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union wind from the hotel but invigorating and helped to get me even more excited about this program, and also gave me the opportunity to do a lot of bilateral meetings with folk that had come in. we refined the program again, did another briefing to secretary kerry and then recently about a month ago, i went on another trip to go to the rest of the nordic countries. we started in sweden went to norway, went to an event called arctic frontiers, another opportunity to speak to a large group, another group of about 1300 or so people from 39 or 40 countries. senior representatives from around the world and once again, an opportunity to talk about our u.s. program. from norway we went to copenhagen, met with not only the danes but the greenlanders as well. to get their perspective. went from there to finland, and
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not only did we meet in hell helsinki and we also met with a permanent observer in the arctic council. and then we finished our trip to moscow. a very productive meeting. the first senior level meeting of u.s.a. representative in moscow since the imposition of the sanctions. so it was a significant event, not just for the council but for the united states as well, and i'd be happy to entertain questions on that when we get into it. so there's been an awful lot of listening going on, and what i would say is it's broken down into a couple of themes. the first theme being this theme of balance, find finding -- finding the sweet spot and i've spoken to an awful lot of groups
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similar to this, diverse groups brookings tend to have a very balanced view of things more centrist, so perhaps this program resonates. we have tried to make it a balanced program to try to reflect all the needs going on up there. but the second comment that i get most constantly when i brief this to groups to the press and in particular to the other seven countries, is almost the immediate response is, wow, that's rather ambitious. and it is. i will lay claim to our united states program probably being the most forward-leaping, most ambitious program that's ever been proposed during a chairmanship of the arctic council, and i think that's the way it should be. leadership, part of leadership is setting the bar high setting goals, and then measuring progress towards those goals and that's what we intend to do during our chairmanship.
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and while everybody else says that it's a rather ambitious program, there's one dissenter. every time i brief this to secretary kerry, he says, are you sure we're doing enough? can we do more? so perhaps we found the sweet spot there as well. the third thing that comes up frequently, in fact came up in the session this morning is why doesn't the united states support the arctic economic council? the arctic economic council, or the aec was one of canada's initiatives, and i think a very good initiative. the focus of the arctic council, since its inexception, has been environmental protection and sustainable development. so, we have plenty of representation on the environmental protection side. if we want sustainable development, it seems to me we need to cut in industry we need to let industry know 0 what the standards are. we need responsible, sustainable
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development within the arctic and the arctic economic council, believe, is set up to facilitate that. now i think where the united states -- where this misperception occurs be in united states not supporting the arctic economic couple is we have some disgrandmas on -- disagreements on how we out to employ participation in it. now that i've had a chance to dissect it because of the feedback of the perception of us not supporting iting, i've found that with eight countries you've have eight different approaches, just like eight different forms of government literally, as you look across it. and for our form of government in the united states the united states government does not own industries. now, some of the industries that are represented within the aec from other countries are at least partially or wholly opened by the state. there's state interest in having those countries in there to be able to develop things within
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the arctic. we took a different approach. first of all, because of our culture. our government does not own industries. secondly if we start getting too close with industry you start running into federal advisory committee rules that have to be complied with. so our choice whether you like it or don't like it, our choice early on was to turn this over to the chamber of commerce in alaska and the chamber overcomer selected three alaskan companies to be our representatives to the aec and the aec has. just had its first meeting. so i think there are going to be some disputes on how the aec should be used. there will be questions about how we employ it. questions about how much influence it should have on arctic council activities. >> guest: should if have different status from observer groups? i don't know. what i'm saying is it's still a
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work in progress. the united states fully embraces and it will continue it. we thank canada for starting it, but there's more to come on that. the next thing that came up most frequently, are we going to talk to russia? i'll just leave it at that. obviously -- well obviously i was sent to moscow. we're talking with russia, and it's very important what we do. everything within the arctic council is done by consensus. one country can break consensus and then we don't take on a project. so it's important to keep russia in the fold, not just for the arctic council but for a things going on in the world. the next of the last thing that is repeated frequently is we are excited about united states leadership. and i like that. and i have found that. one thing that is most gratifying to me as an american is when i traveled overseas either as the commandant of the coast guard or in this position,
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the respect that the united states gets wherever we go. it's the looking to us for leadership wherever we go. i can be at an event here in washington and i'm seat in the back of the room. if i go to norway or iceland they give me a seat of honor up front, and when i step up there regardless of where we are in the program, people stop and listen and it's not because it's papp it's because it's the united states. that's particularly gratifying. the last item i'll bring up here is, along with that being excited about the united states leadership they question our commitment. they want to know are you really committed to the arctic? and fortunately, or unfortunately, what they look at is commitment of resources. one of the questions i frequently get is, you guys can't even buy an icebreaker. are you really committed to the
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arctic if you can't buy an icebreak center yet the russias have more than two dozen. china is building an icebreaker south korea is building an icebreaker, other countries are building icebreakers, and i don't want to say i'm focusing just on icebreakers. there are other infrastructure needs as well. but we need to be about the business of committing resources. i'm very hopeful that the recent executive order signed by the president, which brings all the agencies together with an arctic executive steering committee, is going to lead to setting priorities which will hopefully lead to commit something resources as well to the needs in the arctic. with that i think i'll finish because i'm excited about getting to your question: thank you very much. [applause]
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>> are you get can mic'd up admiral, if might just raise the first question. i don't mean it to be controversial but i think it's an important question. despite the grandiose plan you have outlined that the government has for our chairmanship of the arctic council, there are number of what seem to be crisscrosses signals out of this administration particularly if you're alaskan resident. we're all concerned about the pipeline capacity dropping rapidly and the need to find additional oil reserves to have that national asset continue to operate. and yet we have just recently
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seen the administration take large swaths of alaska out of consideration for future oil development, at least in an bar and the coastan -- anwar and the coastal plane. do wehawk a co carolina in washington? i'm saying washington not blaming the administration. do you think we have any coherence in the country whether or not we really see alaska as a land of opportunity and abundance for the future of the nation or the other view is maybe close it off and make it all a national park. >> i'll admit and certainly in speaking and listening most importantly to alaskans as recently as last week, senator less a mccull company and senator maria cantwell held aing her on the day the government was shut down, before the energy committee in the senate. i think senator mccull ski couldn't bear the possibility of shutting down a hearing on the
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arctic on a day that is was snowing in washington, dc. so we're getting attention to it and there were alaskans on the panel with me, and they brought up those same concerns. and i guess what i would say is, part of our challenge i raising raising the visibility of the arctic. as we sit here right in this spot we're 3,500 mimes from barrow alaska, the northern most point of the united states, right there in the center of the arctic. 3,500 miles and a lot of canada in between. so there's not a connection between the american people and the arctic. we only have 50,000 americans who live above the arctic circle in northern alaska. 'i think most alaskans in the state have a connection to the
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arctic. they understand it but it's not a large population and someone mentioned earlier this morning, in fact i meant to comment on it. one of our coast guard officers talked about us being a maritime nation. i have hard a hard time over the years trying to convince people we're a maritime nation much less an arctic nation as well yet we are and have responsibilities as a nation. so it's only been recently with the opening of the wear -- there's a changing climate it's opening up waters and there are needs there. but they are new needs. new starts, and anything in washington that is a new start is very difficult to sell. therefore so, in terms of resourcing we know the pressures on the federal budget over the past decade or so so it's hard to get new things in there in terms of policy decisions i think that part of our program
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is a very active and strong and robust public diplomacy effort which we will hope will raise the awareness of the american people. there will be significant meetings held in alaska. some meetings held near washington, dc. we hope to bring senior leaders from around the world including some of our own senior leadership from washington. some of the seal experts and bring them to alaska and teach them a little bit about it so we can raise that awareness. and then and only then will people take into consideration the full range of opinions and issues when they make policy decisions that affect the country broadly like that. >> thank you. okay. we'll go to the floor. there are some roving mics. if you wait to get a mic and also please identify yourself and please ask a question. one in the very back of the
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room. >> my name is meredith sandler with sandler trade llc. i was the state of alaska representative within the u.s. delegation to the arctic council from 1995 to 2002 and in fact ramrodded the last time the u.s. had the chairmanship and did all the things you described. my question -- so for one admiral, i appreciate what you have said very much. i'm a ten-year resident of alaska. i worked for alaska governor tony knowles for seven years and he would say to me with a little nudge in the back -- to my back if not for alaska the united states would not be in the arctic council or need an arctic policy and clearly it's evolved, and this room is incredible. so many people are here. but my question is, i appreciate the listening, but where are the
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alaskans, the alaska governors office in the policymaking part of this? not just to be listened to but to be an integral representative, ongoing to the delegation to the arctic council to what you're talking about and honest to god policymaker who has a equal voice with all of the as we say from alaska all the feds. thanks very much. >> well, obviously, as you referred to as listening and i refer as to listening, that's confirmation in a more formal term and we will keep that consultation going. i see the alaskans lotters here in washington on a very frequent basis, and i'll -- our two senators and representative young, and every time we get
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alaskaons in here, they generally stop by the state department and spend some time with me. i've not had the chance to get back up there to alaska but i think we can understand with all the preparation wes have had going on that the arctic council, which is an international body, as you know. i'm speak though rest of the room -- don't mean to be condescending -- we're folks on international issues. it's not within our portfolio to be dealing with domestic issues. the domestic issues are the responsibility of other departments within our government and as i said part of our program is this public diplomacy effort which, in my heart, i hope will raise the awareness of the american people for using the arctic council chairmanship as a means to get to the goal that i've advocated for the last four or five years, that we need to start investing
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in some of the infrastructure of alaska. so the consultation will continue to go on. we have brought an alaska native on to act as chief of staff to ambassador charlton. carlow just worked with the alaska arctic policy commission in developing that. she is providing great input to us. we have been frustrated -- we have been trying to set up a panel of experts to consult with alaska natives. we're trying to find the right device for doing that the right contract, whatever it might be, to make a more formal arrangement between us and doing some consulting with alaska natives. at the end of the day where do we put alaskans into this organization? well, once again, it's an international thing that is a
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federal function. we appreciate the input. they sit in on the alaska -- the arctic policy group, and that will continue. how do we more formally involve system i know craig fleener is coming up, the new governor's representative for the arctic and we'll continue to engage as much as we can. >> thank you. in the middle. >> from from the polish embassy. just a question. as far as cooperation with russia, can you explain something more? you said you had to fight for the talks there so if you could say something more and just along this line isn't the increased military activity russian military activity -- making this not possible at all in the

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