DOD Putting New Arctic Security Studies Center in Anchorage

The Defense Department’s new academic research and training venue focused on the Arctic will be located in Anchorage, Alaska, the Pentagon announced Nov. 17.

The exact location of the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies, first announced in June, is still to be determined. But Anchorage was identified as the sole candidate city, DOD announced in a press release.

The Defense Department will use the Department of the Air Force Strategic Basing process to evaluate facilities for the final selection process. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which is hosted by the 673rd Air Base Wing, is in Anchorage.

In September, the Pentagon announced that retired USAF Maj. Gen. Randy “Church” Kee would serve as senior adviser for Arctic security affairs and assist with establishing the center, which will report to the undersecretary of defense for policy and support U.S. Northern Command, U.S. European Command, and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

This marks the sixth regional center for security studies the Defense Department has established, joining ones focused on Europe, Africa, the Asia Pacific, Near East South Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. Three are in Washington D.C., with the others in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Germany.

The purpose of the regional centers is “focused research in support of Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy priorities, and the cultivation of communities of practice,” according to a DOD fact sheet.

More specifically, the Arctic center will: 

  • Advance Arctic awareness.
  • Advance DOD’s Arctic priorities.
  • Reinforce the rules-based order in the Arctic.
  • Address the impacts of climate change in the region. 

The Pentagon’s interest in and concern for the Arctic region has expanded greatly in the past few years, as Russia and China look to assert their might in the region and melting ice caps have led to increased access to natural resources and contested shipping lanes. 

In the past two years, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air and Space Forces have all released strategic plans for the Arctic, some for the very first time. U.S. Northern Command also released an Arctic strategy in March.

Still, Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, head of NORTHCOM and NORAD, told Congress this past June that DOD “didn’t move the ball very far down the field this year in the budget with regards to resources in the Arctic.”