Inside the Gates: Army Alaska trains to defend the Arctic in joint exercise

Army Alaska soldiers train at the Donnelly Training Area.
Army Alaska soldiers train at the Donnelly Training Area.(Staff Sgt. Ian Morales)
Updated: Apr. 6, 2022 at 12:00 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska continues to demonstrate its capabilities for training America’s military if it’s called upon to defend the state and Arctic.

The Donnelly Training Area hosted nearly 8,000 soldiers from Alaska, other states, and Canada in March for the inaugural regional Combat Training Center rotation in Alaska.

The Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center organized the exercise. According to Army Alaska leaders, they accomplished their goals.

“It gave us an opportunity to one: do our mission, which was to train in extreme cold weather environments. Our brigade mission to accomplish all of our essential tasks,” said Col. Michael “Jody” Shouse, commanding officer of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson. “And just to have almost 2,000 people from this brigade alone allows us to exercise a number of the systems that this brigade is designed to do.”

The unit found itself against the Fort Wainwright-based 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. The exercise is similar to those held at at the National Training Center at Fort irwin, California, and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. But Alaska can duplicate conditions the others can’t.

“Certainly you don’t have the cold weather environments, you don’t have the ability to support and validate the (Army’s) Arctic Strategy that was outlined in March 2021,” Shouse said.

Canadian troops took part in the exercise that also featured Japanese observers. Shouse wants to see more units involved in future exercises.

“If the Army’s going to continue to develop their Arctic Strategy, then (the) 1-25, and 4-25 aren’t the only two brigades that are cold-weather oriented brigades,” Shouse said.

Shouse believes his soldiers are now better prepared should they be deployed to defend the region.

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