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Special Operations Command North deploys Special Operations Forces to the Arctic during Operation Polar Dagger

by U.S. Special Operations Command North
15 September 2023 UNITED STATES — Starting Aug. 15, the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command initiated Operation Noble Defender in Alaska to demonstrate the commands’ ability to advance integrated deterrence and layered defense for Canada and the U.S. Alaskan NORAD Region. USNORTHCOM provided special operations forces and capabilities to Operation Noble Defender through Operation Polar Dagger.

During Operation Polar Dagger, joint U.S. SOF expanded their operational reach by integrating with the USS John P. Murtha, which was located within the Bering Sea. Additionally, U.S. SOF employed new and emerging technologies, demonstrated their ability to defend critical infrastructure in austere locations, and assessed competitor activity in the Arctic.

“SOCNORTH demonstrated throughout Operation POLAR DAGGER SOF can effectively compete in the Arctic and will continue to identify challenges and develop creative solutions to detect, deter and disrupt threats in the region and throughout the U.S. Northern Command’s area of responsibility,” said U.S. Army Col. Matthew Tucker, SOCNORTH commander. “Our greatest competitor in the Arctic is the environment. This year’s operation provided SOF the opportunity to learn from challenges with the movement of forces and capabilities, employ and assess communication systems, and sharpen the skills necessary to defend the northern approaches of the homeland.”

More than 150 joint SOF forces from across 10 states conducted over the beach operations, special reconnaissance, long range movements, threat assessments against defense critical infrastructure, rapid resupply, personnel recovery, and community engagements with Native Tribes.

“Partnerships are fundamental to SOF and to all our missions and endeavors,” said a U.S. Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Commander assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). “Our team had the opportunity to engage with the Alaska Native people on St. Lawrence Island and learn about their best practices on survival techniques in the subarctic terrain. We place incredible value on what we can learn from the Alaska Native people who have generational experience in this extreme environment.”

Additionally, the integration of Naval Special Warfare personnel with the USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26), a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, underscored the flexibility and adaptability of the U.S. military in responding to the evolving strategic environment, according to a release by Naval Special Warfare Group TWO (tag DVIDS - News - Naval Special Warfare Interoperates with USS John P. Murtha in Bering Sea (

"Integrating U.S. Navy SEALs with the USS John P. Murtha during Operation Polar Dagger further prepares our forces to operate effectively in the extreme environment of the high-north – while contributing to our national security objectives," said Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Commodore Capt. Bill Gallagher. “Naval Special Warfare’s ability to operate with fleet assets provides combatant commanders greater flexibility in deploying forces to counter emerging challenges in the region.”

In a show of airpower out to the furthest reaches of the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility, units from the 17th Special Operation Squadron deployed an AC-130J Ghostrider aircraft, a first for the unit to this austere location, alongside the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment MH-60 Blackhawks, and 207th Aviation Troop Command, Alaska Army National Guard, UH/MH-60 Blackhawks and CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The joint SOF and total forces air components supported the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Green Berets and East-Coast-based U.S. Naval Special Warfare Operators (SEALs) with helicopter insertion and extraction, validating search and rescue capabilities, air to ground integration, aerial overwatch, fast-roping, and close air support.

Lastly, the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Surgical Team from the 720th Operational Support Squadron provided a rapidly deployable trauma medical capability in support of the integrated air, ground, and maritime operations.

“Operation Polar Dagger provided our joint and total forces the opportunity to operate together and conduct in-person communications,” said Chief Master Sgt. Clint Grizzell, SOCNORTH command senior enlisted leader. “The ability for our forces to look each other in the eyes, in real-time, provides unmatched value, especially in the austere environment of the Arctic. We've had some great lessons learned but it is about how we work together, joint SOF and total force, to evolve from the previous operation. We already found lessons that we're going to build upon for the next iteration.”

SOCNORTH exists to plan, execute, and command and control special operations in support of USNORTHCOM and our National objectives to meet the National Defense Strategy’s top priority – Homeland Defense.

To learn more about USNORTHCOM,
To learn more about USSOCOM,
To learn more about SOCNORTH,
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To learn more about U.S. Naval Special Warfare SOF,
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Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 2841 Rendova Rd. San Diego, CA 92155-5490

This is an official
U.S. Navy website

U.S. Pacific Fleet
2841 Rendova Rd
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