Anchorage selected as site for Defense Department’s Arctic security research center

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 3:52 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The U.S. Department of Defense announced Wednesday that the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies will be located in Anchorage as the sixth such type of regional facility.

A permanent location has not yet been designated, but Anchorage has been listed as the sole candidate city to host the center, according to a department fact sheet released Wednesday.

“I have been very outspoken to both the president and his administration that the Ted Stevens Arctic Center for Security Studies must be located in Alaska,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said. “We are the state that makes America an Arctic nation and our geostrategic location creates unparalleled possibilities available nowhere else. I appreciate that the Department of Defense took our advice, and made the right choice to locate the center in Alaska.”

The Ted Stevens Center was originally announced on June 9 but the department had not yet determined where it would be located. The previous five DoD security study centers were established between 1993 and 2000, with one located in Germany, one in Hawaii, and three centers located in Washington, D.C.

Murkowski, speaking on a potential timeline for the program, said the senior advisor for the Arctic Security Affairs program – U.S. Air Force Ret. Maj. Gen. Randy “Church” Kee – is already in place and in the process of the early establishment and operations for the center.

“What is happening right now is the exact location is being identified,” Murkowski said. “I’m told that they’ve pretty much made a determination as to where that is.

“It’s not public yet, but it is in Anchorage,” she continued. “They need to lock that in, and then we will have a period of time as we’re putting it in place and making it operational.”

The senior senator for Alaska added that she sees the project potentially coming to fruition in a matter of months.

“We have been building to this place for a period of time under the leadership of this senior advisor,” she said. ”Now that we’ve gotten the official go-ahead, the official sign-off, that this is in Alaska, the Arctic state, and now housed in Anchorage, we can start moving.”

Fellow senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said the center will continue to help put Alaska on the map from an operational standpoint.

“These are areas that are not just focused on military strategy,” he said. “They are convening centers for national security, foreign policy, for bringing people not just from Alaska but the entire world to our state. And I think that that is a really great opportunity.”

Also expressing excitement over the progress toward the center was Republican Rep. Don Young, who called it “a big day for Alaska.”

“I know it would make my friend, the late Senator Ted Stevens, very proud. Alaska has always been the rightful location for the Stevens Center; today, it is official,” Young said. “Ted was not only a steadfast advocate for Alaska, but he also fully recognized the strategic importance of the Arctic to America’s national security.

“The Arctic is changing,” he continued. “Although the region is becoming rich in opportunity, that also means new and unknown threats are growing as well. Through the Stevens Center, we can make sure Alaska is front-and-center as we work to strengthen national security in the Arctic.”

Along with Young, Sullivan specifically noted his support of the center being named after Stevens.

“In terms of American forces, the Ted Stevens legacy, in that regard, is one that is very strong,” he said. “The naming of this Department of Defense Arctic Security Center after Ted Stevens I think was fully appropriate. It’s going to remind members of the military how much he did, not just for Alaska, but the entire U.S. military.”

The late Sen. Stevens served in World War II as a pilot and was the longest serving member of the U.S. Senate with 41 years in office. Stevens died in a plane crash in 2010.

“Our work to secure authorization and funding for the center was a huge accomplishment on its own, but now to know that the Center will officially be located in Alaska is incredibly welcomed news,” Murkowski said in a press release. “I’m proud to have helped ensure the Ted Stevens Center continues to move forward from a mere concept to reality. As this project comes to fruition, we will all see the tremendous value it will provide as America pursues and defends our interests in the Arctic.”

On Sept. 22, the Defense Department announced that Kee would serve as senior advisor for Arctic Security Affairs and support the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the establishment and operations of the Stevens Center. Sullivan and Murkowski sponsored the National Defense Authorization Act funding of $10 million within the fiscal year 2021 appropriations package. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said that the center will increase cooperation on challenges and security concerns in the Arctic.

“The center will support the U.S. Interim National Security Strategic Guidance direction to work with like-minded partners and across the interagency to pool our collective strength and advance shared interests,” Austin said in a press release. “It will address the need for U.S. engagement and international cooperation to strengthen the rules-based order in the region and tackle shared challenges such as climate change.”

Murkowski secured the $10 million funding in her role as appropriator, she told Alaska’s News Source in an email. The mission for regional security centers listed in the DoD fact sheet includes executive level education programs, in region workshops and research support.

The four mission areas listed for the Stevens Center to be located in Anchorage are to advance Defense Department priorities, reinforce rule based order in the Arctic, and “in keeping with the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s priorities and the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, address the impacts of climate change in the region.

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