The small island country of Iceland is located in a very strategic location in the Atlantic Ocean. Iceland – NATO member with a big role – has been a key component of NATO’s maritime security posture and in surveillance of the Greenland Iceland United Kingdom (GIUK) gap. This is primarily due to the country’s geographic position between the North American continent and the British Isles and Europe. Iceland has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since its foundation in 1949. 
The Greenland Iceland United Kingdom (GIUK) gap is a term used to describe the area of the North Atlantic Ocean that Russian attack submarines need to traverse through to reach the trans-Atlantic shipping lanes and the coast of the United States. The Russian Northern Fleet operating out of its base in Murmansk has to cross the GIUK gap to deploy its submarines and surface vessels beyond the Barents and Norwegian Seas. Iceland, with its sea access and airport provides NATO an excellent base from which to conduct maritime surveillance of the GIUK gap.
In addition Iceland is an ideal base for stationing of Search and Rescue (SAR) vessels and aircraft. Its position in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean lends itself to aid in maritime emergencies for cargo ships, passenger ships, and fishing vessels. The Icelandic Coast Guard has offshore patrol vessels, fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters to perform its security, law enforcement, and search and rescue missions.
Russian submarine capacity and activity has increased over the past few years and the technology gap between NATO and Russian capabilities in submarine warfare has decreased.  In addition, NATO has been faced with a resurgent Russia that is becoming more forceful in the international arena (Crimea, Ukraine, Syria, etc.).