US Army Considering Replacing Stryker Brigade in Alaska With Revived 11th Airborne Division
22:26 GMT 12.05.2022 (Updated: 14:44 GMT 13.03.2023)
© Flickr / USAFE US Army Stryker infantry carrier vehicles convoy
© Flickr / USAFE
The US Army’s top civilian official said recently that the Army could soon switch out a Stryker armored unit in Alaska for a second airborne infantry brigade, joining it with one already in the northerly state to reform the 11th Airborne Division after a 57-year hiatus.
“We are looking at potentially taking the Strykers out of Alaska,” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth told the Senate Appropriations Committee last week. “We have not made a final decision about that, but if we do that, we will basically take them and look at the ones that we can reuse elsewhere or basically use for parts.”
Wormouth told the Senate committee that the Army was “looking at reflagging the US Army Alaska Headquarters as the 11th Airborne Division, which is a division that was disestablished but has a very storied lineage.”
This, she noted, might help combat the recent uptick in suicides at US Army Alaska because “some of the soldiers there don’t feel like they have a sense of identity or purpose around why they’re stationed there.”
During a visit earlier this year to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, a massive base in Anchorage, Alaska, that is home to both Air Force and Army forces, Wormouth said that winter combat training was more important than ever for US soldiers.
“I think right now the purpose of Army forces in Alaska is much more about creating an extreme cold weather capable formation” that could be used in Europe or the Indo-Pacific, Wormuth told the Associated Press during the visit.
“We’re trying to get to a place where we have Arctic capable forces - forces that can survive and operate in that environment,” she added.
Infantry in Alaska are expected to one day be armed with Cold-Weather All-Terrain Vehicles (CATV), a tracked vehicle designed for snowy climates that the Army is still evaluating candidates for. The winner is expected to be chosen by June, Breaking Defense reported.
© Sputnik ScreenshotThe Bandvagn S10 "Beowulf" all terrain armored vehicle, built by BAE Systems subsidiary Hägglunds
The Bandvagn S10 "Beowulf" all terrain armored vehicle, built by BAE Systems subsidiary Hägglunds
The Army released its first-ever Arctic strategy report, titled “Regaining Arctic Dominance,” in January 2021, closely on the heels of the Navy’s own strategy report. The Army report notes that as climate change melts Arctic sea ice and thaws permafrost ground, new areas of economic and political competition will open up, which the US wants to ensure Russia and China don’t dominate - by dominating them itself.
“The Arctic has the potential to become a contested space where United States’ great power rivals, Russia and China, seek to use military and economic power to gain and maintain access to the region at the expense of US interests,” the report says.
“US National Security Strategy (NDS) highlights the Arctic as a corridor for expanded strategic great power competition between two regions - the Indo-Pacific and Europe,” it continues. “The NDS identifies the erosion of the Joint Force’s competitive edge against China and Russia as a central problem the Department must prioritize while maintaining a favorable balance of power between the two theaters.”
As part of that, the US Coast Guard has also suggested it might perform Arctic patrols similar to the provocative “freedom of navigation operations” (FONOPS) the Navy uses to demonstrate its contempt for rival nations’ naval claims that Washington deems “excessive.”
The reports came in the wake of a scathing indictment of the US’ chaotic Arctic policy by Washington academics, which was described as having “no coherence.”