Sullivan Works to Include New DoD Arctic Security Studies Center in NDAA Bill

New Center to be named “Ted Stevens Arctic Center for Security Studies”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Armed Services Committee this week passed out of committee the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act. U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the committee – and Chairman of Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, successfully included key elements of a bill introduced earlier this Congress with Senator Murkowski authorizing a new regional Department of Defense (DoD) Center – appropriately named the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies. The center, which would be the first DoD Regional Center in the Arctic and the first new DoD regional center since 2000, would be located in Alaska, and would support defense strategy objectives and policy priorities through a unique academic forum, while also fostering strong international networks of security leaders.

“In one of the most impactful defense authorizations in recent memory, I’m pleased that I was able to work with Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Reed, and Senator Murkowski to authorize a new DoD Center – the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies – in Alaska,” said Senator Sullivan. “We are an Arctic nation because of Alaska and I am hopeful that this center will help build on our military’s expertise in this strategic region and send a message to our allies and adversaries that we are a proud and strong Arctic nation.”


“The reason a Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies is even conceivable today is because of the vision that Senator Lisa Murkowski and I have for U.S. leadership in the Arctic,” said Senator Sullivan. “I look forward to working with Senator Murkowski and our Senate colleagues to make sure this center gets fully funded.”

The DoD is authorized, within 120 days, to establish a Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies. As a part of this authorization, the DoD is required to submit a plan to Congress on the stand-up of this center. This plan will include benefits of an Arctic Securities Study Center for national security, suitable locations in Alaska – including collocating on military installations or at local universities – associated costs, suitability of use of existing infrastructure, curriculum, and partnership opportunities with other Arctic nations.


Additionally, this year’s NDAA includes a number of other Arctic-related provisions critical to Alaska, including increased Arctic communications capabilities, plans to modernize the North Warning System, and further DoD research in the Arctic. 

“As we continue to prepare for great power competition with Russia and China, this year’s defense authorization continues to lay the groundwork for Alaska and the Arctic’s central role in this race for geo-strategic dominance in the region,” said Senator Sullivan.

  • $46 Million for an Arctic Communications Capabilities: Authorizes $46 million for an initial satellite capability to begin to establish more robust communications at these northern latitudes in the Arctic to support an initial satellite capability for this important region. The U.S. is an Arctic nation and stable communications is a basic first step to ensure that the U.S. is appropriately posturing for great power competition in the Arctic region. 
  • North Warning System Modernization: Directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a report on the status of the North Warning System infrastructure and develop a plan to modernize the system for integration into space-based infrastructure.  The North Warning System is a string of 47 long– and short–range radar stations that stretch across the Arctic from Labrador to Alaska. These stations provided electronic observation and surveillance capability across the poles for cruise missiles. 
  • DASD for the Arctic: Requires the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs to assign responsibility for the Arctic region to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere or any other Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense the Secretary of Defense considers appropriate.
  • Addressing Great Power Competition in the Arctic: Encourages the Department of Defense to maintain and strengthen communication and cohesion of efforts with all U.S. government agencies in the Arctic. Additionally, this provision encourages the Department of Defense to stand up a joint-interagency task force to help better coordinate efforts in the Arctic.  
  • Arctic Research:  Working with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the FY21 NDAA includes a provision to assess planning, research, and development for Arctic training, equipment, and future weapon systems. 
  • Impact of Permafrost Thaw on Military Assets: Directs the Secretary of Defense to complete a study on the impact of warmer and wetter climates, creating critical changes such as degradation of permafrost in areas that possess critical infrastructure vital to national defense.