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US seeks boost in Arctic operations

The U.S. military is looking to expand operations in the Arctic due to melting ice caps that open up sea lanes, AP reports.

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Navy medic killed after wounding 2 sailors in Maryland shooting | Dems push Biden for limits on military gear transferred to police | First day of talks on Iran deal 'constructive' 140 national security leaders call for 9/11-style panel to review Jan. 6 attack Trump Afghan pullout deal unachievable, says ex-Pentagon leader MORE said climate change, energy resources and security issues surrounding the Arctic will continue to increase in importance, especially as new polar sea lanes open up.

"That's going to give many new opportunities to countries, to the world," Hagel told reporters on Thursday.

"That will come with new challenges as well. So the United States needs to be very active in this group and be very involved."

In May, President Obama released a strategy for the Arctic that said the region's fragile environment must be protected and free from conflict.

It is estimated that the Arctic contains 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves and 30 percent gas deposits, U.S. officials said.