Arctic sea ice north of Alaska

Arctic sea ice north of Alaska. The end of summer sea ice extent in 2020 was the second lowest in the 42-year satellite record. Photo by Hajo Eicken/Courtesy Heather McFarland

The U.S. Department of Defense disclosed plans Wednesday to establish a regional center to focus on Arctic issues that include climate change science and international cooperation in the Arctic region.

The location for the DoD regional center has yet to be determined, but the Alaska delegation has been advocating for its development in Alaska, said Nate Adams, press secretary for U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan.

“Alaska is the reason that the United States is an Arctic nation, which is why we are fighting for the center to be based in our state,” Sullivan said in a prepared statement. “This would be instrumental in cultivating the Arctic policy expertise that is desperately needed in the Department of Defense.”

The Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies will be the sixth regional DoD center, said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby at a briefing Wednesday at the Pentagon.

It will be named after the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens from Alaska.

“The Ted Stevens Center will provide a new venue to collaborate across the U.S. government and with our allies and partners to advance shared interests for a peaceful and prosperous Arctic,” Kirby said. 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said in a statement posted to the DoD website that the regional center “will address the need for U.S. engagement and international cooperation to strengthen the rules-based order in the region and tackle shared challenges such as climate change.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski described the future Stevens Center as “a soft power tool to support and strengthen the advances DoD is making in the Arctic.” 

Creating the nation’s first Arctic regional center was an initiative sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan in the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. The center’s focus will be working cooperatively on shared interests with other Arctic nations, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.

The Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies will be guided and managed by the undersecretary of defense for policy.

“Naming the Arctic Center for Security Studies after a consensus builder like Sen. Stevens is an incredible testament to his legacy of patriotism and multilateralism,” U.S. Rep. Don Young said. 

The center’s focus will support U.S. Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which signals the Biden administration’s key priorities.

Sullivan added: “I want to thank Secretary Austin for his focus on this critically-important geostrategic area of the world, Sen. Murkowski for initially conceiving of the idea and working to appropriate funds for the center, and Congressman Don Young for carrying it across the finish line in the House.”

The DoD regional centers are international academic facilities that host bilateral and multilateral research, communication and training.

The Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies will be guided and managed by the undersecretary of defense for policy.

Other DoD regional centers are: the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany; the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii; as well as the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, and the Near East-South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, all three of which are in Washington, D.C.

Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.