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Alaska Congressional Delegation Welcomes U.S. Army’s First-Ever Arctic Strategy

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, today commended the U.S. Army for releasing its first-ever strategy for the Arctic this week, the third service-specific strategy document released for the region. The strategy, titled “Regaining Arctic Dominance,” comes as a result of a provision Sen. Sullivan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), included in the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring each branch of the Armed Forces to produce its own Arctic strategy.

“I commend the U.S. Army, under the leadership of former Secretary of the Army McCarthy, acting Secretary of the Army Whitley, and Army Chief of Staff General McConville, for their efforts to rebuild the Army’s Arctic capabilities, which have significantly atrophied over the past decades,” said Senator Sullivan. “The Army’s intent to establish a Multi-Domain Task Force with specially-trained and equipped combat brigades in Alaska highlights the strategic importance of our state, and provides the Army with the tools to create unique challenges for our competitors in the Arctic. This strategy, and those of the other services, sends a strong message to our allies and adversaries that the United States plans to project and sustain power throughout the Arctic now and into the future.”

“In the Pacific Theater of World War II, the Alaska Territorial Guard – an all-volunteer, unpaid group of Alaskan Natives – fought alongside the U.S. Army defending the homeland when the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands. The Army’s presence in Alaska has grown and changed since that time but one thing remains the same: the challenges of a sometimes harsh environment, including bitter cold and rugged terrains. Serving in America’s only Arctic state is not for the faint of heart,” said Senator Murkowski. “The Army’s recently released Arctic strategy – Regaining Arctic Dominance – demonstrates the strategic importance of the region and lays out a comprehensive plan to capitalize on the opportunities and challenges in the Arctic, including training to ensure America’s soldiers are well-equipped to execute any future mission. I also commend that this Arctic strategy looks to incorporate and leverage the knowledge and skills of the Alaska Natives to improve how the Army operates in the region – an Indigenous population that has provided insight for the Army since our state’s inception. Alaska is home to America’s Arctic Warriors and I look forward to supporting efforts to get our soldiers back to living that mantra in both word and action. Arctic Tough!”

“America is an Arctic nation because of Alaska, which means our state is on the frontlines of national security, commerce, and exploration,” said Congressman Young. “The Arctic is changing, and if we are to secure success in the region, we must project American leadership. I am very proud that the U.S. Army has officially released its Arctic strategy. This strategy is not just a good day for our state; it is a significant development in the cause of global peace and security. As the only Member of Congress from inside the Arctic Circle, our presence in the region has been one of my highest priorities. Conditions are rapidly evolving, and in the coming decades, we must ensure that Arctic waters are navigable and that our servicemembers have the support necessary to keep the peace; I am optimistic that this new strategy will be essential toward achieving these goals. Between the Army's new 'Regaining Arctic Dominance' strategy, the Navy's recently-released Arctic Blueprint, the Air Force’s ongoing Arctic strategy, and the broader Department of Defense Arctic initiatives, we are well-equipped to maintain our competitive edge. In the 117th Congress and beyond, I look forward to working with military leadership, local stakeholders, and our Alaska Native communities to a bright future for Alaska and the Arctic.”

Among other provisions, the Army’s Arctic strategy places a focus on:

  • properly training and equipping the U.S. Army’s Arctic Warriors for extended operations,
  • improving the physical and mental health of soldiers stationed in the Arctic,
  • highlighting Russian military activity and Chinese interest in the region,
  • developing military concepts and doctrine for operating in cold weather and mountainous regions,
  • prioritizing Arctic training and expertise for certain command positions,
  • examining the benefits of establishing an Arctic Army Prepositioned Stocks set,
  • expanding joint and international training with U.S. allies and partners in the Arctic, and
  • cooperating and consulting with Alaska Native communities.

Timeline

  • In April of 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard released its “Arctic Strategic Outlook.
  • In June of 2019, the Department of Defense released its Arctic strategy document.
  • In July of 2020, the U.S. Air Force released the first service-specific strategy document, which Sen. Sullivan called the “most robust U.S. Arctic strategy document to date.” The strategy lays out an expansion of the competitive space in the Arctic under four lines of effort: vigilance in all domains, projecting power through a combat-credible force, cooperation with allies & partners, and preparation for Arctic operations. Importantly, this strategy also emphasizes continued work and collaboration with Alaska Native communities.
  • In January, the U.S. Navy released its Arctic strategy document, titled “A Blue Arctic.” The strategy states that naval forces must expand their role in Alaska—and the greater Arctic region—through the pursuit of three main objectives: maintaining enhanced presence, strengthening cooperative relationships, and building a more capable Arctic naval force.
  • Also in January, the Department of Homeland Security released it’s first-ever Arctic strategy.

In the FY 2020 NDAA, Sen. Sullivan secured a provision requiring the secretary of defense and the service secretaries to submit a plan on how they will implement the Department of Defense’s 2019 Arctic Strategy to defend the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and develop Arctic infrastructure and capabilities.

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