More Marines May Head to Alaska for Cold Weather Training: Senator

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, ALASKA — The Marine Corpscould soon be sending Marines to Alaska, one of the state’s senators told reporters here this week.

The impetus, said Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, is joint operations in the Arctic.


“The Marines are looking at spending a lot more time in Alaska,” he told reporters here during an Aug. 8 press conference with Army Secretary Mark Esper, who is visiting the state.

Sullivan is accompanying Esper on his tour of Alaska’s Army posts, including Fort Wainwright and Fort Greely in the state’s interior.

Alaska does not currently have a strong Navy or Marine Corps presence. A handful of sailors are stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, while the small contingent of Marines here are primarily assigned to a Marine Corps Reserve unit.

Esper said Alaska is important to national defense thanks to its proximity to Russia and China. It also offers a perfect spot to tackle training for cold weather environments.

“It doesn’t take much to look at the map and understand Alaska’s geography with regard to Russia and China and the importance of Alaska,” he said. “And not just the importance of geography, but the knowing how to operate and function.”

It’s that cold weather training that will likely be the major draw for the Corps. Commandant Gen. Robert Neller confirmed to in an interview last year that the service is exploring ways to add training in the state to its limited cold weather training options.

“There’s a lot of good training areas in Alaska,” he said at the time. “There’s actually some facilities and capabilities in Alaska we’ve been up to look at.”

The Army conducts the bulk of its Alaska-based cold weather training at its Northern Warfare Training Center on Fort Greely, about 300 miles northeast of Elmendorf-Richardson.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity out there, a lot of potential, and certainly we need to know how to operate in this environment,” Esper said. “And I think the more we can do that and the more we can do that as part of a joint team with our Marine Corps and Air Force partners, all the better.”

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