‘AN IMPORTANT DAY FOR ALASKA’
In a reversal that has buoyed Alaska’s military community and recession economy, the U.S. Army announced today it will retain the full 5,000-soldier infantry brigade combat team at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Two years ago, the Army announced it would dramatically reduce the 4-25th. As part of an overall downsizing of the U.S. military, the 4-25th would become a much smaller battalion “task force.” Thousands of Alaska soldiers would have been transferred and thousands of related jobs were at stake.
Today, those plans were cancelled, and the Army also announced that the 4-25th will deploy approximately 1,500 soldiers to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan was jubilant: “Over the last two years my team and I have relentlessly advocated – in both Washington, D.C. and Alaska – for the Army to reverse its decision and keep its only airborne brigade combat team in both the Arctic and Asia-Pacific regions in Alaska. Today, I applaud the announcement that the Army has formally decided to keep the entirety of the 4-25 in Alaska for the foreseeable future. This is an important day for Alaska, and for the national security interests of the United States. This decision sends a clear message that our military leaders recognize the emerging security challenges in both the Arctic and the Asia-Pacific, and that our country remains committed to ensuring peace and security through strength in both of these critical regions.
Sullivan brought Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley and (former) Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning to Alaska last year to tour the bases and hear more about the importance of the cold-weather brigade and Alaska’s military footprint.
The 4-25th is the only extreme cold weather and mountain-trained airborne brigade combat team in the Army, and is positioned to respond to threats in the Asia-Pacific and the Arctic, he said.
After his visit, Milley announced that the brigade would remain intact for another year.
Sullivan fought on. He also included an amendment in a defense bill requiring the Pentagon to develop an Arctic strategy and plan. Today, he thanked Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young for their efforts to reverse the downsizing.
“Finally, I want to thank the men and women of the 4-25 and their families. I’ve gotten to know many of you over the past several years in Alaska and at training exercises outside the state. Despite the recent uncertainty of the 4-25’s status, you continued on with your mission. You and your families represent America’s finest. Godspeed on your next deployment,” Sullivan said.