Earlier this year we decided to appoint a Special Representative for the Arctic for a simple reason: President Obama and I are committed to elevating these issues in America's foreign policy and national security strategy because the United States is an Arctic nation, and Arctic policy has never been more important, particularly as we prepare to Chair the Arctic Council in 2015.
We set out to find the right American official for this assignment, a distinguished and senior, high-level public servant with broad foreign policy experience and a passion for the Arctic.
I could not be more pleased to announce that Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr. will lead our efforts to advance U.S. interests in the Arctic Region as the State Department's Special Representative.
Admiral Papp served with great distinction as Commandant of the Coast Guard, retiring this May after a stellar thirty-nine-year career. As Commandant, Papp navigated a difficult budget environment to recapitalize the Coast Guard's fleet, working with Congress to secure funding to complete five of eight National Security Cutters and to refurbish and restore the Polar Star heavy icebreaker to service. I could not be happier that he agreed to postpone his well-deserved retirement and join our effort in a cause about which he is both passionate and wise.
I am also extraordinarily grateful that in our efforts, I will be able to rely on senior advice from a remarkable Alaskan, former Lieutenant Governor Fran Ulmer who, as President Obama's Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, will provide invaluable counsel as a Special Advisor on Arctic Science and Policy.
We have a great deal of work to do, and that work starts right away. Admiral Papp will soon travel to Alaska to consult with policy-makers on the front lines of America's Arctic state. As we have throughout this process, we will rely on the close consultation of Senators Begich and Murkowski.
The Arctic region is the last global frontier and a region with enormous and growing geostrategic, economic, climate, environment, and national security implications for the United States and the world. With the team we're building at the State Department, we will make sure that the United States is in the strongest possible position to meet these challenges and seize these opportunities.