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Army Alaska prepares for new role in defending the Arctic

Published: Feb. 28, 2021 at 4:29 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -

The Army already plays a big role in protecting Alaska. That role is about to change.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville is close to releasing his new strategy for how the service defends not just the state from aggressors, but the Arctic region.

“We have to respond to any potential contingencies or concerns,” said Maj. Gen. Peter Andrysiak, the commanding officer of Army Alaska. “There’s going to be a lot more commerce that travels through there. Plus, it is resource rich, so, there’ll be more competition for resources.”

Soldiers from Army Alaska recently completed Arctic Warrior 21. They trained for nearly two weeks in subzero temperatures at the Donnelly Training Area near Fort Greely.

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Army leaders wanted to see how their soldiers can handle operating in the cold,” Andrysiak said. “Since the global war on terror started, it’s pulled a lot of units out of Alaska, and it took the focus away from training in this particular environment.”

Exercises like Arctic Warrior 21 are not just designed to test people, but also equipment.

“When we were asked to go to Afghanistan, when we’re asked to go to Iraq, it was a similar platform,” said Andrysiak. “Whether we were a stryker brigade combat team we have at Fort Wainwright, or an airborne brigade unit here at JBER, that equipment was not necessarily designed for the environment.”

The Army wants to make sure its soldiers and equipment are better trained, as they will soon have a bigger role defending America.

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