San Francisco Chronicle

Army preparing for Arctic conflict

- By Lolita C. Baldor Lolita C. Baldor is an Associated Press writer.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The U.S. Army is poised to revamp its forces in Alaska to better prepare for future coldweathe­r conflicts, and it is expected to replace the larger, heavily equipped Stryker Brigade in the state with a more mobile infantry unit better suited for the frigid fight, Army leaders say.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said she expects to make a final decision soon about the Alaska troop change, saying she will likely convert the Stryker unit, which uses heavy, eightwheel­ed vehicles, to an infantry brigade.

“I think right now the purpose of Army forces in Alaska is much more about creating an extreme cold weather capable formation” that could be used in Europe or the Indo-Pacific, Wormuth said. “We’re trying to get to a place where we have Arctic capable forces — forces that can survive and operate in that environmen­t.”

The U.S. has long viewed the Arctic as a growing area of competitio­n with Russia and China, particular­ly as climate change brings warmer temperatur­es and opens the sea lanes for longer periods of time. But officials have acknowledg­ed that the U.S. lags behind those nations. Russia has taken steps to increase its military presence there, and China views the region as economical­ly valuable for shipping and natural resources.

The changes in the Army were under considerat­ion well before U.S. tensions with Russia soared following its invasion of Ukraine.

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