"We've been conducting ICEX for years and years and years," Capt. David Kirk, head of the Navy's undersea influence branch, told reporters Tuesday. "[It] isn't driven at all by perceived adversaries. It's an important region to operate in."
A notable loss of sea ice, both in thickness and the amount of area covered, has the Navy concerned about increased activity in the region, particularly with the possibility that more open water could create shipping lanes.
ICEX is the Navy's 27th Arctic exercise since the 1960s, and the first since 2014.
"Funding went down after the Cold War, but the Navy's interest reinvigorated in 2009 with the Navy's Arctic Road Map," said Scott Harper, head of arctic research at the Office of Naval Research.
Among the participants in the exercise are Alaska Air National Guard assets, Mobile Diving Salvage Unit 2 and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team, as well as Royal Navy personnel and Royal Canadian Navy and Air Force personnel.
Ice Camp Sargo is set up on an ice floe and designed to house and support about 70 personnel at a time. It's about 200 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, Kirk said, but because of the ice's migration, the camp is currently drifting about nine miles per day.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT