The United States Army will adjust its forces in Alaska to better prepare for cold-weather wars. According to leaders, it is intended to replace the state’s Stryker Brigade with a more mobile infantry formation.
According to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, “the aim of Army soldiers in Alaska right now is really more about developing an extreme cold weather capability unit” that may be employed in Europe or the Indo-Pacific. “We’re aiming to have Arctic-capable forces – forces that can survive and operate in that climate.”
She stated that she intends to make a final decision on the troop transition shortly, which would most likely include transforming the Stryker unit to an infantry brigade. The 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team would be transformed into a light infantry brigade.
The division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat team and the unit would merge to become the 11th Airborne Division, which would be located in Alaska. Wormuth stated that Stryker vehicles would be replaced by terrain-appropriate vehicles.
“I believe it makes a lot of sense to have soldiers trained in the Arctic regions where they will be utilized,” she says. “If we’re going to have ground soldiers in Alaska, they have to be able to accomplish it.” The changes were being considered before to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin would have to approve any final decision.
“If you’re going to do big movements of equipment and things like that, the summer is a pretty important window because it’s a lot easier to move vehicles around than doing it in the dead of winter,” Wormuth explained, explaining that the Army would compensate for Stryker losses by expanding the size and capabilities of the headquarters.
Wormuth claims that the US has historically rejected initiatives to militarize the Arctic, even while Russia has increased its military presence there. Wormuth questioned if that approach will be revisited anytime soon. In April, the secretary observed an Army brigade fighting fictitious “Denovian” soldiers from California’s dry Mojave Desert.
“I think right now the entire Army is really looking at what’s going on in Ukraine and trying to learn lessons,” he added afterward. “As we see what’s happening to the Russians right now, it’s enlightening for us to think about what’s right, from a modernization aspect,” she added, noting that certain US tanks are quite heavy and Europe is muddier.
The Army’s fiscal year 2023 budget request calls for fewer soldiers, in keeping with a plan to convert the Stryker Brigade, despite a $2.8 billion increase above fiscal 2022 authorized funds.