Alaska’s Army teams set to be renamed 11th Airborne Division, as Army looks for ways to reduce suicide

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U.S. Army Alaska is in the process of designating the state’s Army teams as the 11th Airborne Division, the secretary of the Army told a Senate committee this week. The goal is to reduce troop suicide by giving the Alaska-based soldiers a more defined “sense of identity.” The change will take place this summer.

“One of the things we’ve found that we think is contributing to what we’ve found in Alaska is that some soldiers there don’t feel like they have a sense of identity or purpose around why they’re stationed there,” said Army Secretary Christine Wormuth during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. She also said every soldier in Alaska will receive mental health evaluations from a surge in mental health professionals that she is sending to the state for a six-month period.

Wormuth said that Covid has contributed to the problem of mental health stress by increasing isolation in what is already a challenging environment.

The new 11th Airborne Division would become the Army’s second paratrooper division, combining the 1st Brigade Combat Team at Ft. Wainwright and the 4th Brigade Combat Team at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and those would also be redesignated as the 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams under the new division.

Suicide among Alaska-based soldiers has been on the rise. Seven soldiers died by suicide in Alaska in 2020, and 11 took their lives in 2021 — with another six soldier deaths still being investigated as possible suicides.

Wormuth told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Army is “trying to surge a significant quantity of behavioral health providers” to Alaska, including more chaplains and personnel from the Military and Family Life Counseling Program.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, who serves on the committee, called it an “historic development” that “presents a dual opportunity—renewing the spirit and purpose of our Alaska-based soldiers by connecting them with this division’s proud and storied history, and better fulfilling America’s role as an Arctic nation. We can’t forget, this development would not have been possible had we lost the 4-25 back in 2015 when the Obama administration was enacting draconian cuts to our Armed Forces. I’m glad to have worked with so many Alaskans, who love and support our military, to preserve our Alaska-based soldiers who help secure America’s interests in the Arctic and Asia-Pacific, and to witness this exciting future for our Arctic warriors.”

“We are going to be a division once again, unlike any other division in the Army — with a unique mission and purpose,” said Maj. Gen Brian Eifler, commander of U.S. Army Alaska. “We’ll align, all of us under one patch, one unit, one identity.”

Soldiers in Alaska currently wear the patch of the Hawaii 25th Infantry Division, with a lightning bolt theme.

The proposed patch for the new 11th Airborne Division.

The 11th Airborne Division was activated in 1943, during World War II, fighting in Italy and in the Pacific. It was deactivated in 1958 during the Cold War, and briefly reactivated in the 1960s.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Get rid of the “woke” in our military (all of it) and we won’t have near as many suicides. Our military are our heroes and should be treated as such, especially by our government! Not like an experimental process. Keep the jab away from them and treat them like real human beings, you will have much better luck, not matter what name you give them. Respect, respect, respect is the name of the game.

    • Great comment Sally! Thanks, In my 21 1/2 years of U.S. Army service, I can recall only one suicide and that was an inmate at Leavenworth.

  2. Well, if that doesn’t stop the suicide problem I don’t know what will.

    Hope whoever came up with that idea gets a star for it. Maybe two.

    I suggest a 78th gender identity would benefit the army as well.

  3. “The proposed patch for the new 11th Airborne Division”. that patch shown above isn’t proposed. that’s always been the patch of the 11th airborne division. just different iterations of it (swapping of tabs), meaning different roles throughout it’s history. airborne, air assault. now adding the arctic tab of course, being it’s the arctic brigades there in alaska.

  4. Second airborne division. TheY already have two. The82nd and101st. . plus a few independent brigades, likethe173d

  5. Don’t be stupid about suicide. Being woke? Suicide isn’t political. The military culture, where women are raped and abused at will with no repercussions, shows the sickness endemic to the macho environment. Depression = weakness and so I’m guessing soldiers are afraid to speak up. So let’s welcome any attention to the epidemic, not mock it.

    • More radical leftist woke nonsense and psychobabble.
      .
      Lucille, it is the insidious, deranged, evil, and divorced-from-reality BS of so-called “wokeism” that has infected our military that is DIRECTLY responsible for the plummeting rate of morale, and escalating rate of suicide, in our military today.

  6. The increase in suicides within the military is directly related to a lack of leadership, Danny Boy. Circumstances are not improved by renaming a military unit, bringing in extra mental health practitioners, or blaming everything on the weather. If the goal is to stop service members from suiciding, then have difficult, but necessary, “come to Jesus conversations” with the NCOs, warrant and commissioned officers, and the civilians with whom you hang around.

    • Suicide is Satan’s victory over truth in the lives of these young people. The military has main-lined progressive wokeness and PC culture into their warriors. Hollywood, Netflix, Tiktok, social media and the internet become the warriors’ best friends instead of true communities.
      These folks need to be taken in and given home-cooked meals and opportunities to laugh and enjoy a family atmosphere when they’re in Alaska and not deployed.

      I’m all for the 11th Airborne reactivation. One step in the right direction.

      If you see someone holding a sign at the Muldoon entrance to JBER that says “God loves you so much — Come to my house for a burger” that will be me.

  7. We lost our disabled vet daughter to suicide at 23 years old Oct 22, 2021 in Fairbanks.
    Our suggestion; Quit giving out passification meds and textbook counselors! As well, quit catering to the confused types and care for those who want to be successful and are true patriots and constitutionalists. At 18, she was a Russian Cryptologic Linguist. You don’t see that everyday, yet she wasn’t worthy of true help. They just threw meds at her. Her father is a 25 year (disabled) successful vet, battling the same medical treatment. Fix the system.

  8. “Wormuth said that Covid has contributed to the problem of mental health stress by increasing isolation in what is already a challenging environment.”
    No it was not COVID, which is not a serious illness for the healthy, relatively young demographic represented by uniformed military, it was the response to COVID, primarily the vax mandate, that is driving the increase in suicides. Rescind the vax mandate and all the myriad of other restrictions on TDY, PCS, etc. for personnel who have wisely resisted the experimental jabs and the suicide rate will decline.

  9. Station a bunch of high achievers in an isolated place. Have the local civilian government shut down the surrounding area for nearly 3 years.

    Add in a leadership more concerned with pronouns and “white rage” than keeping them fit and ready to serve.

    Top it with over 20 years of sustained combat overseas (longest in our history) where you can’t tell who wants to kill you from who wants to help you. Managed by 2 presidents more concerned with optics than victory, another looking for a honorable way out, and a totally lost and corrupt dottering old fool run by the far left…

    Small wonder morale is low.

  10. Leaving Afghanistan the way we did sure didn’t help…….but who cares right? General Miley Cyrus telling the Chinese he would alert them if President Trump made any moves didn’t hurt anyone either. Being forced to take an experimental vax or be dishonorably discharged sure didn’t lead to depression, what could be causing these issues?

  11. My two cents…
    1. suicide is contagious – it amazes me that the military hasn’t had more of a problem.
    2. leadership, or the lack of it, is what is causing those who signed up to serve the country then were betrayed by that leadership in not communicating purpose who is at fault. This is not a mental health issue – it is a leadership issue. Those soldiers who are depressed have no sense of purpose.
    Drugs and access to a red light district will not solve a deficit in purpose.

  12. Leadership is key and extremely important. This includes the entire chain of command from the top down. All leaders placed in positions of responsibility must follow leadership principles and possess leadership traits to be successful. A good leader will evaluate self and identify strengths and weaknesses; capitalize on the weak points. Be a leader, get outside the box, and develop espirit de corps and integrity, and build morale with the Soldiers, NCOs, and Officers. Be a participative leader, not always authoritative. A failure to plan is a plan that will fail.

    We welcome the 11th Airborne Division to Alaska. Looking forward to activate the unit and provide 100% support. Let’s show our support.

  13. Typical bureaucrat answer. If something doesn’t work just change the semantics and presto change-o all is better and we don’t need to put in anymore effort. This is a leadership problem, as well as a focus problem, because in the end all those touchy feely things do not matter where the rubber meets the road!

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