New DOD Arctic Security Studies Center Approved by Congress

The U.S. Senate today passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA), including a provision authorizing a new regional Department of Defense (DOD) Center named the “Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies.” U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chairman of Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, successfully included key elements of a bill he introduced earlier this Congress with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) successfully included the provision in the House’s version of the NDAA, which passed on Tuesday.

The Ted Stevens Center, the first DOD regional center in the Arctic and the first new DOD regional center since 2000, will support defense strategy objectives and policy priorities through a unique academic forum, while also fostering strong international networks of security leaders. 

“This year’s defense authorization will be recognized as one of the most impactful in recent memory for our country, particularly for the Arctic region,” said Senator Sullivan. “In addition to the historic investments being made in the Arctic—including new icebreakers, space-based communications, critical military infrastructure, and new initiatives for remote locations—we will soon have an institute to cultivate the Arctic policy expertise that is desperately needed in the Department of Defense. In order to address the rise of ‘Great Power’ competitors in the Arctic, the Ted Stevens Center will be a new focal point for strategic thinking as it combines Alaska’s extensive reserve of Arctic expertise with the best and brightest minds from around the world. I want to thank Senator Murkowski, who conceived of this idea, and Congressman Young, who included the provision in the House NDAA. Both of them worked with me to make the Ted Stevens Center a reality and honor the legacy of the center’s namesake, a seminal Alaskan leader on whose shoulders we stand today.”

“Throughout his time in the Senate, the late Senator Ted Stevens recognized the critical role the Arctic plays in our national defense. He understood the importance of improving the capabilities of our military in the region to safeguard our national interests and improve economic security. I’m proud to have shepherded support for the new Ted Stevens Arctic Center for Security Studies, the first DOD Regional Center in the Arctic,” said Senator Murkowski. “We are seeing drastic geopolitical, environmental, and security changes in the High North, which are driving increased activity in the region and placing greater emphasis on the strategic importance of the Arctic. This new security center will help solidify America’s place in the region and ensure that our country is equipped with the information it needs to support defense strategy objectives, advance defense readiness, improve international cooperation and multilateralism, and best address pressing regional and global security issues. The delegation worked hard to secure this new opportunity in the Arctic and I look forward to the ways it will benefit America while honoring the legacy of Ted Stevens in the process.”

"My friend, our late Senator Ted Stevens, was not only a steadfast advocate for Alaska, but he also fully recognized the strategic importance of the Arctic to America's national security,” said Congressman Young. “Establishing the Ted Stevens Arctic Center for Security Studies has been one of my highest priorities, and I am proud that our Delegation has always fought for its creation. America's national security is not a partisan issue. Naming the Arctic Center for Security Studies after a consensus builder like Senator Stevens is an incredible testament to his legacy of patriotism and multilateralism. I am very pleased that this year's NDAA makes tremendous progress toward its creation, and I am grateful to my colleagues in the House and Senate for supporting it. In the 117th Congress and beyond, I will continue working with the Alaska Delegation and my friends on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the doors of the Ted Stevens Center finally open, and the critical work to defend America's interests the Arctic continues." 

The DOD is authorized, within 120 days, to establish a Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies. As a part of this authorization, the DOD is required to submit a plan to Congress on the stand-up of the center. The plan will detail the benefits of an Arctic security studies center, including identifying and considering suitable locations with close proximity to the Arctic, such as Alaska, and co-locating the center on military installations or at local universities. The report will also study associated costs, the suitability of using existing infrastructure, curriculum, and partnership opportunities with other Arctic nations. 

Related Issues: Defense, Arctic