U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski announced Nov. 17 that the U.S. Department of Defense has selected Anchorage as the location for the new Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies.
Named for the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, the Stevens Center will support and strengthen advances DoD is making in the Arctic, using security cooperation, research and academia, and diplomacy. The Center will be the sixth DoD Regional Center and the only one specifically focused on the Arctic.
“I have been very outspoken that the Ted Stevens Arctic Center for Security Studies must be located in Alaska,” Murkowski said. “We are the state that makes America an Arctic nation and our geostrategic location creates unparalleled possibilities available nowhere else.”
Alaska Sen Dan Sullivan said, “we worked incredibly hard as a delegation to ensure the Ted Stevens Center would be based in our state. Alaska is the reason that the United States is an Arctic nation.”
In order to address the rise of great power competition in the Arctic, the Ted Stevens Center will serve as a new focal point for strategic thinking as it combines Alaska’s extensive reserve of Arctic expertise with the best and brightest minds from around the world.”
Murkowski and Sullivan sponsored the initiative to create the Stevens Center in the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Through her role on the Senate Appropriations Committee Murkowski secured $10 million for the Stevens Center in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations package.
“As a nexus for security cooperation, the center will soon play host to America’s global partners and allies along with a variety of federal and state authorities and academic institutions, also bringing economic benefit to the area,” Murkowski said.
“As this project comes to fruition, we will all see the tremendous value it will provide as America pursues and defends our interests in the Arctic,” the senator said.
Murkowski is considered the leading expert in Congress on Arctic issues and has worked to raise awareness of the region. At the beginning of the 114th Congress, Murkowski and Sen, Angus King (I-ME) formed the “Senate Arctic Caucus” to advance issues important to the Arctic.
Murkowski also led the effort to recapitalize and expand America’s fleet of U.S. Coast Guard Polar Security Cutters, also known as icebreakers.
In a related development, Sullivan played a key role in developing the new National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which is now on the Senate floor. The bill contains a new provision, the Arctic Security Initiative, that will “mean more focus, personnel, vessels, infrastructure, aircraft and investment being directed to America’s Arctic—to Alaska—in defense of our nation in this important region,” Sullivan said.
The initiative requires, not later than fiscal year 2023, that the Secretary of Defense stand up a program of activities aimed at improving the posture of joint forces in the Arctic region, the senator said.
A list of activities and a resourcing plan to carry out the Arctic Security Initiative will be submitted to the congressional defense committees. The plan is then to be submitted with the President’s budget every year thereafter through 2027, Sullivan said.
Congress has historically only authorized two region-specific security initiatives—the European Defense Initiative in 2014, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) in 2021, following China’s militarization of the South China Sea and other provocative actions in Asia. The new Arctic Security Initiative is the third such regionally-focused defense plan
In addition to authorizing the ASI, the FY 2022 NDAA includes:
Increased funding for national defense of $25 billion beyond President Joe Biden’s request, matching the National Defense Strategy Commission’s minimum recommendation of 3 percent real growth, and bringing the total funding authorized for the DOD and nuclear weapons activities to a total of $777.9 billion.
• Provides America’s service members with a 2.7 percent pay raise, makes necessary improvements to military health care, continues efforts to guarantee military spouses have access to employment, provides service members with dedicated bereavement leave, and ensures military families have access to high-quality housing;