Sullivan: Navy considering reopening base in Adak

Published: Mar. 14, 2021 at 5:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s been nearly 24 years since the Navy closed its airbase at Adak. Yet, it continues to show signs of life.

The Marines arrived in Adak in September 2019 as part of a joint exercise with the Navy and Coast Guard to show how troops respond to emergencies in the Arctic.

But, the exercise may have shown something else--the importance of a military presence in the Aleutian Islands.

“It is enormously strategic in terms of really the Gateway to the Asia-Pacific and the Gateway to the Arctic,” said Senator Dan Sullivan, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

The Navy is considering reopening the base.

“The Secretary of the Navy, (Kenneth Braithwaite) when he was out in Alaska this past fall, and I hosted him,” Sullivan said. “He was looking for places for positioning Naval assets and of course ice breakers.”

That view has apparently not changed even with new Navy and Defense Secretaries.

The Army has not yet released its new Arctic strategy. The other branches of the military have already done so. What they have in common is increasing their presence in the region.

Air Force fighters intercepted a Russian bomber near Alaska last June. It’s the most recent encounter that has taken place over the last few years. Sullivan is not surprised tensions have increased in the Asia-Pacific.

“The Pentagon lost sight of this,” Sullivan said. “They didn’t recognize the big, what I’m calling, and what everybody is now starting to see, is the return of great power competition with regard to Russia and their very aggressive activities in the Arctic, and now China.”

A former naval base in the Aleutian Islands may be part of the solution to defending the Arctic and the nation.

Senator Sullivan also said plans continue moving forward for a deep water port at Nome that could handle Navy ships, and ice breakers. Plus, the Air Force is considering placing more air refueling tankers in Alaska.

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