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Inside the Gates: Alaska to get more Arctic defense funding

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 2:20 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska-based troops already defend the Arctic, and now the region has taken on more significance with increased activity by Russia and China.

U.S. troops will likely play a bigger role in securing the region, and will have more tools to do it as the National Defense Authorization Act sits on President Biden’s desk. The U.S. Senate passed the $770 billion funding measure for the Department of Defense on Dec. 15 by vote of 88-11. Alaska plays a big a part in it as the bill includes the Arctic Security Initiative.

“This gets the Pentagon to focus on a five-year strengthening of our national security in the Arctic Region,” Sen. Dan Sullivan said.

Sen. Dan Sullivan voted for the bill, in which $155 million would be set aside for military construction projects around Alaska. Of that funding, $79 million would go to expand the runway at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, with the rest to go to Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.

Within the bill, $80 million would be spent on satellites to improve communications around the Arctic. That money is on top of the $46 million secured for satellites in the fiscal year 2021 budget. Sullivan has long pressed for increased military spending in the Arctic.

“That is becoming an area of great power competition, and America has very strong strategic, national security, economic security interests,” Sullivan said

Sullivan again stressed Alaska will play a key role in defending the Arctic. The bill also includes a 3% pay raise for all military troops and civilian personnel, but has yet to be approved by President Joe Biden.

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