Timing and military events in the Arctic and around the world justify a halt in decreasing the size of U.S. forces stationed at Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.
This week the U.S. Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which requires a detailed operational plan for U.S. military interests in the Arctic region. Sen. Dan Sullivan drafted the language for the requirement.
The $612 billion defense authorization bill provides the funding for the plan, which would evaluate the strategic, staff and infrastructure needs for the Arctic.
The military announced in July that it intended to reduce its forces by 40,000 nationwide, including 2,600 at Elmendorf-Richardson and 75 at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, whose resume includes military service as a Marine, has been urging the military to craft a plan since he took office. Until such a plan exists, it is irresponsible to cut soldiers across the board, particular in the Arctic, a part of the world generating increased interest nationally and internationally.
Alaska’s proposed cut would represent about three-quarters of its existing forces.
The plan would look at the needed military capabilities and infrastructure and an assessment of Russian military operations, which have increased in the Arctic. China and other nations also have been making known their interest and/or presence in the Arctic.
It is wise to review the situation before even considering to reduce forces in Alaska, the front line for the Arctic. That’s what the plan would accomplish.
With a plan, then the appropriate action can be implemented. Until then, it’s makes the most sense to keep the existing forces in place — close to the Arctic in Alaska.
President Obama, who this summer visited Alaska and its Arctic, will be deciding whether to sign or veto the defense bill. It’s hoped that his visit gave him insight as to the importance of forces here to protect the Arctic.
— Ketchikan Daily News,