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In 2011, the U.S. signed the Arctic Search and Rescue (SAR) Agreement, a landmark treaty that gives the U.S. responsibility for conducting SAR in a slice of territory that surrounds Alaska and stretches to the North Pole. This agreement coincides with rapid economic, environmental, and military changes that have the potential to bring more people into the Arctic region. Increased human activity in the extremely remote and inherently risky region raises the question: is the U.S. prepared to handle its SAR responsibilities in the Arctic?

To address U.S. preparedness for the Arctic SAR mission set, this dissertation examines three research questions:

  1. What is the current demand for Arctic SAR, and what factors affect its future trajectory?
  2. What is the current U.S. capability for supplying SAR in the Arctic, and how is it changing?
  3. Is the U.S. able to respond effectively to a challenging set of potential future Arctic SAR cases?

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Foundational Knowledge for Arctic Search and Rescue

  • Chapter Three

    What is the current demand for Arctic SAR, and what factors affect its future trajectory?

  • Chapter Four

    What is the current U.S. capability for supplying SAR in the Arctic, and how is it changing?

  • Chapter Five

    Arctic SAR Scenario Analysis

  • Chapter Six

    Findings and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Interviews with Subject Matter Experts

  • Appendix B

    Arctic SAR Model

  • Appendix C

    Military SAR Scenario Analysis

  • Appendix D

    Aeronautical SAR Scenario Analysis

  • Appendix E

    Maritime SAR Scenario Analysis

This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2016 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Abbie Tingstad (Chair), Brien Alkire, and Scott Stephenson.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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