Defense of Alaska

 I will take the defense of Alaska against some outside force very seriously. 

I started my Army career as an Artilleryman in the Indiana National Guard in 1979.  But I began my active duty career as an Arctic Paratrooper in Alaska’s Charlie (Airborne) 4/23 at Fort Richardson.  After my tour in Alaska I was rotated to 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC, where I arrived just in time to take part in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada (Oct/Nov1983).  I got out after that, and immediately regretted it, so I came back in with an eye toward going Special Forces.  But the recruiter told me I had to be an Engineer as SF needed no Infantrymen at that time.  In his defense, he likely really thought he was right, but that was the year (1984) when SF became its own branch.  So, I reenlisted onto active duty and attended the Combat Engineer course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Bruce Walden Artic Training

          I wound up in 27th Engineers, again at Fort Bragg, and ultimately got to the the Special Forces Qualification Course in 1987 graduating the SF Weapons Sergeant course in September ‘87.  Later, in 1995, I returned to Bragg to attend the Operations and Intelligence course and was awarded my MOS.  At that time, I was likely the only soldier I know who had five combat MOSs.  I was school trained as (in chronological order) a 13B, 11B, 12B, 18B, and 18F.  I retired on June 30, 2001.  And just over two months later, our nation was attacked.

          I served with a contracting agency named Triple Canopy in the early days of the Iraq War.  When I left Iraq, I looked around me and thought, “This is the best military, the finest troops in all branches I’ve ever seen.”  Sadly, those days are long passed.

          We have highly motivated people in our military, and in Alaska’s military.  But we do as we have always done, and we have trained and equipped from the wrong end.  The generals, admirals and other high-ranking folks are the right people to make the decisions when it comes to strategy.  But when it comes to the day to day existence, the things that motivate the soldier (replace that with Marine, Sailor, Airman, Coast Guardsman, and Guardian) we always get it wrong.

          Alaska has a very small Army National Guard.  But we have the 11th Airborne Division, right?  In World War Two, the Alaska National Guard was deployed leaving Alaska to defend itself and that was when the Alaska Territorial Guard, the Eskimo Scouts were created by Colonel Marvin “Muktuk” Marston, often aided by Kermit Roosevelt, son of President Teddy Roosevelt.

          Our military began to languish under Obama, but Donald Trump began putting meat back on the bones of our military.  Sadly, he did not get to complete the job- yet.  Then came Joe Biden and the job of the military went from the defense of the homeland and our allies to social engineering.  And Alaska, you were left out to dry.  I am a career soldier.  I know my craft.  And what I propose herein I propose as a career NCO, not some high ranking officer sitting in an ivory tower.

          Senator Sullivan called in the heads of the military branches and told them to begin preparing for warfare in the Arctic.  However, we are already seeing what I knew we would.  Off-the-shelf thinking is getting us into trouble… again.  Humvees and Strykers do not work in Alaska.  They are fine in town and on the highways.  They are worthless in snow and tundra.  But as usual, these are the go-to work horses in the minds of those at the top. 

          Alaska’s Airborne National Guard troops lost their jump status under Obama. We will fix that very quickly.

          The Alaska State Defense Force, a patriotic unit gets precious little support.  We are going to fix that by calling for the reconstitution of the 38th Special Forces Company right here to train those troops.

          The airborne troops in the active military are under-equipped and unable to move to the remotest parts of the state and fight on foot.  As a former Arctic Paratrooper I know whereof I speak.  Please follow these bullets and see my proposals.

 

  •  When I was in 27th Engineers, we were trained in “rough terrain airborne operations.”  This means we jumped wearing smoke jumper equipment so that we could be deployed into any terrain, typically directly into the trees.  I propose that every soldier in the 4/25 be so trained.  The reason is obvious to those who’ve performed these operations.  The far flung areas of Alaska are out of reach of helicopters unless said choppers are equipped for aerial refueling.  So, actual parachute operations are a necessity.  But there are few prepared Drop Zones out there in the wild and wide. This mission will also require about 100 Pathfinder teams distributed throughout the Native communities.  These will be National Guardsmen.

 

  •  We require armored snow-mobile vehicles.  The knee-jerk response is that this is impossible, but simple math says it is very possible, with innovative thinking.  Create a vehicle with not two thin tracks, but four very wide tracks.  Likely four sets of tracks would be needed, and to deploy by parachute the vehicle would require that the outside sets of tracks be folded to the sides of the machine and would deploy hydraulically.  But once on the ground the tracks would be twenty feet wide by thirty feet front to back giving the machine, let us assume over thirty tons, a couple of pounds per square inch on top of the snow.  Armored fighting vehicles and tanks could thus be tailored to Alaska’s unique terrain.  And in this way, those same paratroopers, once they have secured a drop zone, can receive APCs to move them about on the tundra or snow.  No other army has such a vehicle.

 

  •  Create a 4th Ranger Battalion (Arctic) stationed either at Fort Richardson or Fort Wainwright.  We require a unit of Arctic capable shock troops.  We have no such force. Not since Oscar Ranger Company, 75h Rangers was retired in the 70s have we had a Ranger unit in Alaska.

 

  •  Reconstitute the 38th Special Forces Company at Fort Richardson.  These would be full time troops, and would train our ASDF as well as bring the various unorganized militia groups who would come under a central command at such time as any type of actual warfare erupts in Alaska.  We have many thousands of Alaskans who are motivated to defend the state, but there is no real organization.  We’ll fix that.  Furthermore, one ranking individual told me that the unorganized militias are “just a bunch of wild-eyed crazies.”  I immediately knew I was speaking to someone who did not understand unconventional operations.  I’m sure those types exist.  And I’m also pretty sure that General Washington was told the same in the 1770s.  But I contend that most of these folks are like you and me.  Simply people who love their state and are willing to stand in her defense. 

 

          Friends, if you are paying attention to the world, you know that the world is a powder keg right now.  If you think Alaska is not a tempting target, you are not paying attention.  I foresee a time very soon when we’ll have outside special operations personnel conducting limited warfare right here to take our eye off the ball as they hit other targets.