AK Congressional Delegation Speaks Out Against Troop Cuts at Fort Richardson
Despite Global Volatility, Administration Making Cuts to Alaska Army
Alaska’s Congressional Delegation today is responding to the news of continued significant reductions in the size and capability of the U.S. Army. In addition to cuts in Georgia and Hawaii, the Army told the delegation it will be downsizing its operations in Alaska at Fort Richardson by cutting 2,600 soldiers there and 75 soldiers at Fort Wainwright.
“Along with thousands of Alaskans, I find this decision devastating, far beyond what it means to our state economy, but what it means to America’s defense. It is staggering that the Obama administration is making such short-sighted decisions and ignoring the emerging threat before our noses presented by Russia, China and North Korea,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “The Secretary of Defense told me he wants a robust Arctic defense immediately, the Army Chief of Staff testified on the need to maintain a strong military presence in Alaska and every cabinet official and military commander I speak to acknowledges the need for a strong Arctic posture. The Alaska Congressional delegation will continue to challenge this decision and seek a more responsible outcome to defend our nation in this vital and volatile region.”
“I am extremely frustrated with today’s decision. But I take some solace that the U.S. Army left the door open to reversing this decision by not eliminating a full brigade from Alaska,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “While I understand these troop reductions reflect the Administration’s world view of what the Army should be, I do not believe that the Department of Defense’s decision adhered to the Senate’s defense guidance in the NDAA. This decision was obviously made without a full understanding of the geostrategic importance of Alaska’s troops to our national security. Since day one, I have worked on the Senate Armed Services Committee to call attention to Russia’s increasingly aggressive military buildup in the Arctic. And as I’m sure President Obama would even admit, Russia is not a JV team and neither is North Korea. Like this year’s National Defense Authorization Act says, we need more forces in the Asia-Pacific – like Alaska – not less. These decisions need to be made based on strategy, not on bean-counting. Therefore, I have placed a hold on a senior DOD official who was set to be confirmed by the Senate today. I will continue the hold until I get answers to questions about how this affects our national security, and continue to work with our Congressional delegation to reverse this strategically misguided decision.”
"I was extremely disturbed to hear the Army even consider – let alone reach a final decision on – plans to reduce troop levels in Alaska," said Congressman Don Young. "In these times of growing global threats, especially in the Asia-Pacific and Arctic regions, the Army should be increasing its presence in Alaska – not cutting it by more than 2,600 soldiers. While the Army masks its decision as a budgetary issue, they’ve failed to fully consider the strategic interests of the nation. Losing the only airborne brigade in the Pacific Theater – the only airborne brigade with cold-weather, mountainous, and Arctic training – will negatively affect the Army’s ability to operate in the Pacific region for years to come. As the Alaska delegation has done in the past, we will continue to fight this decision to ensure there is a strong Army presence in the most strategic location in the world: Alaska."
In light of the Pacific region’s volatility and the heightened Russian aggression in the Arctic, Alaska’s Congressional Delegation reached out to the U.S. Army in March urging them to consider adding soldiers in Alaska – not reductions.