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Sunday, November 19 2017 @ 06:58 AM AKST

Gov. Walker Fights to Keep Military Families

Military and VeteransGovernor Bill Walker yesterday spoke with U.S. Secretary of the Army John McHugh about the Department of Defense’s pending decision on troop reduction, and the possible elimination of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. Throughout their conversation, Governor Walker stressed the strategic value of keeping Army forces in Alaska.

Secretary McHugh told Governor Walker the issue is still under consideration, but that a decision is imminent.


“Having an airborne brigade combat team in Alaska means those paratroopers are eight hours closer to Asia than other airborne brigades in the Lower 48,” Governor Walker said. “These soldiers are optimally located in Alaska, and can respond to threats more quickly than if we did not have full manpower in the state.”

Commonly known as the 4-25th, the group is made up of approximately 4,000 soldiers, and is the only Arctic-capable brigade combat team in the United States. Additionally, it is the only team stationed in the Pacific theater. Governor Walker emphasized these factors to Secretary McHugh, noting that it would take months to re-train troops on the severe cold environment and knowledge of the region.

“The United States has the opportunity to be a leader in the rapidly developing Arctic,” said Governor Walker. “Reducing our military presence in this region could have harmful impacts on these efforts, and I hope Secretary McHugh will take that into consideration as decisions are made.”

Governor Walker expressed to Secretary McHugh his concerns about the socioeconomic effects of a forced draw-down of troops in Anchorage. According to the U.S. Army, the economic effects would be significantly harmful in Alaska, while such reductions made in the Lower 48 at many bases would actually be beneficial.

By 2017, the Army will have 490,000 active-duty soldiers, after a troop reduction of 80,000. By 2018, the Army will have to make further cuts to reduce troop strength to 450,000.

“I understand Secretary McHugh has the unenviable task of reducing troop numbers across the nation,” Governor Walker said. “I thank him for taking the time to listen to Alaska’s concerns—both yesterday and during the listening sessions held earlier this year in Fairbanks and Anchorage. Alaska needs the Army and the Army needs Alaska.”

Governor Walker also spoke with Senator Dan Sullivan today and thanked him, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young for all of their efforts in maintaining the U.S. Army troop levels in Alaska.

On February 23, Governor Walker and Alaska National Guard Adjutant General Laurie Hummel traveled to the Pentagon to meet with General Raymond T. Odierno, the 38th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, to discuss the important presence of the brigades, soldiers and their families in Alaska.

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