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Inside the Gates: Air Force discusses new Arctic Strategy

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 3:28 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -The Arctic has become a key strategic area for the United States, China and Russia. And with Russia increasing its presence in the region, the U.S. is taking steps to ensure its forces are ready for any challenges.

“You’ll see us bringing more units up here to train, to understand this environment,” said Lt. Gen. David Krumm, the commander of the Air Force’s Alaskan Command.

The Air Force is among the branches of the nation’s military that have updated their Arctic Strategy. The Pentagon called for the revised plans in 2019.

“There’s more interest in the natural resources in the Arctic in the form of minerals, petroleum,” Krumm said. “There’s also interest in protein, so the fishing stocks.”

The Air Force released its strategy in July 2020 that focuses on four objectives, including always being ready for any challenges to the region.

“The Air Force is going to be the lead service,” Krumm said. “We have the preponderance of assets up here with our aircraft, with our radar sites, and with our bases.”

The Air Force operates two installations in Alaska — Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base.

The Clear Air Force Station in the Denali Borough on Tuesday became part of the new United States military branch, the Space Force, and renamed the Clear Space Force Station. It detects incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Aircraft and personnel from JBER and Eielson will provide the first line of defense. The strategy also calls for projecting power through a force that is always ready for combat. Other objectives focus on improved cooperation between allies and partners and being prepared for Arctic operations.

Krumm, however, noted one thing won’t change.

“We need to make sure we are here, we sustain our presence, and we don’t cede leadership to anyone else,” Krumm said.

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