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DoD Selects Anchorage as Site for Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies

by | Nov 30, 2021 | Arctic, Government, News

©Archangel80889 | Dreamstime.com

The Department of Defense has selected Anchorage as the site for the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies to bolster the United States’ preparedness for various challenges in the region. Named in honor of the late Senator Ted Stevens, the Stevens Center has two main areas of focus: Arctic research and Arctic security.

Main Mission

“We are the state that makes America an Arctic nation, and our geostrategic location creates unparalleled possibilities available nowhere else,” says Senator Lisa Murkowski. “Alaska is indeed the geostrategic crossroads of the world, and the logical place for an Arctic Studies Center.”

Murkowski adds, “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. I appreciate that the Department of Defense took our advice and made the right choice to locate the Center in Alaska.” 

While the Department of Defense has a wide variety of initiatives related to the Arctic, the senator points out that, because many different government entities had a small piece of the US’s Arctic presence, nobody was seeing it as their main mission. The Stevens Center is meant to change that.

“We are seeing drastic geopolitical, environmental, and security changes in the High North, which are driving increased activity in the region and placing greater emphasis on the strategic importance of the Arctic,” Murkowski says.

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Senators Murkowski and Dan Sullivan added key elements to moving forward with the center in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. Congressman Don Young had similar success including provisions in the House’s version of the Act.

In her role as an appropriator, Murkowski secured $10 million for the Stevens Center in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations package.

“This new security center will help solidify America’s place in the region and ensure that our country is equipped with the information it needs to support defense strategy objectives, advance defense readiness, improve international cooperation and multilateralism, and best address pressing regional and global security issues,” she says.

Sullivan adds, “In addition to the historic investments being made in the Arctic—including new icebreakers, space-based communications, critical military infrastructure and new initiatives for remote locations—we will soon have an institute to cultivate the Arctic policy expertise that is desperately needed in the Department of Defense.”

Among the Stevens Center’s top priorities will be reinforcing rules-based order in the Arctic, advancing Department of Defense priorities in the region, and addressing climate change.

Sullivan says, “In order to address the rise of ‘Great Power’ competitors in the Arctic, the Ted Stevens Center will be 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.”

One of Six Regional Centers

Senator Ted Stevens arrives for the commissioning of the nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine USS Alaska in January 1986.

Wiseman | US National Archives

The Stevens Center is the sixth Department of Defense regional center to be established and the first entirely focused on the Arctic. The others are focused on Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, Near East South Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. 

The regional centers are designed to promote integrated, collaborative understanding of transnational threats and appropriate responses to them, as well as to strengthen international institutional relationships. The centers “engage senior-level civilian and military policymakers and practitioners beyond traditional defense stakeholders, including officials from ministries of foreign affairs and interior and parliamentarians, and key security stakeholders from non-governmental organizations and international organizations,” according to a Department of Defense announcement.

“The center will support the US Interim National Security Strategic Guidance direction to work with like-minded partners and across the interagency to pool our collective strength and advance shared interests,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III says.

Creation of the Stevens Center goes beyond politics, according to the late senator’s longtime colleague, Congressman Young. “Establishing the Ted Stevens Arctic Center for Security Studies has been one of my highest priorities,” Young says, “and I am proud that our delegation has always fought for its creation. America’s national security is not a partisan issue.”

Young adds, “Naming the Arctic Center for Security Studies after a consensus builder like Senator Stevens is an incredible testament to his legacy of patriotism and multilateralism.”

The focus the regional center will bring to the Arctic is already a win, says Murkowski. “My metric of success will be that the Arctic is recognized as a significant place on the globe, rather than this snow globe that has been sitting up there on a shelf and just kind of out of sight out of mind.”

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