06.06.22

Sullivan, Murkowski Celebrate Activation of the 11th Airborne Division in Alaska

Today, the U.S. Army Alaska Was Re-designated As The 11th Airborne Division

ALASKA—U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-Alaska) today celebrated the activation of the 11th Airborne Division in Alaska. The Senators attended reflagging ceremonies at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Anchorage. Both ceremonies marked the U.S. Army Alaska’s re-designation as the 11th Airborne Division.  

The 11th Airborne Division originally operated between 1943 and 1965, first activated during World War II in the Pacific Theater for the liberation of the Philippines and the occupation of Japan. The Alaska-based 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, based at Ft. Wainwright, and 4th Brigade Combat Team, based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, will be re-designated as the 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams of the 11th Airborne Division.

“This transformation of this unit to the 11th Airborne Division, now one of only two airborne [paratrooper] divisions in the entire U.S. military, represents a transformation – a sea change in the Pentagon’s thinking about the Arctic and our Arctic strategy.” Senator Sullivan said during his remarks at Fort Wainwright today. “It wasn’t too long ago that our Department of Defense saw the Arctic as a backwater of strategic relevance: no real strategy and a focus on shutting down bases and units here in Alaska. Now all of that has changed. The standing up of the 11th Airborne Division here in Alaska represents a critical pillar of the transformation of America’s Arctic strategy.

“I like to say that our great state, Alaska, constitutes three pillars of America’s military might, with the 11th Airborne Division, all of you, we are a strategically located platform that can deploy thousands of tough airborne Arctic troops anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice. We are the hub air combat power for the entire Arctic and INDOPACOM theaters. The Air Force just finished its bed-down of two squadrons of F-35s here in the Interior. We now have over 100 fifth-generation fighters, F-22s and F-35s, based in Alaska. Nowhere in the world has that kind of fifth-gen fighter power. We’re also the cornerstone of missile defense for our nation, all of the ground-based missile interceptors, the significant radar that we need, is all based here. In addition, we’re building ice breakers to protect our seaborne interests. We’re building a strategic Arctic port in Nome to house and base these ships and large naval vessels and we just stood up the Department of Defense Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies, which will be the premier place in the world to convene the best minds on Arctic strategy. So this is an incredible transformation on the Arctic, an exciting transformation, and the 11th Airborne – all of you – are at the tip of the spear of this strategic transformation.” 

“Today is a momentous occasion, as the historic 11th Airborne Division returns to the Army’s active rolls with a reinvigorated mission focused on operations in extreme cold weather and high altitudes. I was honored to join General McConville, other military leaders, and Senator Sullivan in officially celebrating the reactivation of this storied division—now the Army’s only Arctic Airborne division,” said Senator Murkowski. “Soldiers here in Alaska have always been Arctic tough. They are our nation’s Arctic Warriors, conquering mountains, valleys, and training in the winter’s bitter cold. Their legacies will now become part of the 11th Airborne Division as it re-emerges as one of the world’s most distinguished and elite fighting forces. These Arctic Warriors play a critical role in the defense of our nation, and I am committed to doing everything I can to support them. Arctic Angels, Arctic Strong!" 

BACKGROUND:

  • On May 5, 2022, U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth announced that U.S. Army Alaska would be re-designated as the 11th Airborne Division, constituting the nation’s third airborne division and second paratrooper division. Secretary Wormuth made the announcement during a line of questioning from Senator Sullivan in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), which included testimony from General James McConville, chief of staff of the Army.

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