Alaskan Command

Alaskan Command

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Alaskan Command

caption= Alaskan Command Shield
dates= November 15, 1942
country= United States
type= Subunified Command
role= Defense of Alaska
command_structure= United States Pacific Command
current_commander= Lt Gen Douglas Frasier
garrison= Elmendorf AFB

Alaskan Command (ALCOM) forces are charged with maintaining air sovereignty, deploying forces for worldwide contingencies as directed by the Commander, Pacific Command, providing support to federal and state authorities during civil emergencies and conducting joint training for the rapid deployment of combat forces. The Alaskan Command is a sub-unified command of the United States Pacific Command.

ALCOM is headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska. The command is made up of the following military forces:

*11th Air Force, headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base

*U.S. Army Alaska, headquartered at Fort Richardson

*U.S. Naval Forces Alaska, headquartered in Juneau, Alaska

ALCOM combined forces include more than 16,000 Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard personnel, and 3,700 guardsmen and reservists.

Recently, the Command Representative for Missile Defense position was created to be the focal point for all issues related to Ground-Based Midcourse Defense in Alaska, in support of Alaskan Command, the Alaska NORAD Region, and the Eleventh Air Force.


ALCOM was established January 1, 1947, as a unified command reporting to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The command was founded based on lessons learned during World War II, when a lack of unity of command hampered operations to drive the Japanese from the western Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska.

ALCOM was charged with the defense of Alaska and its surrounding waters, and to furnish humanitarian support during disasters, such as the 1964 earthquake. The Alaskan Air Command, United States Army Alaska and the Navy’s Alaskan Sea Frontier were the three original ALCOM service components.

The Alaskan Sea Frontier was inactivated in 1971 as part of post-Vietnam military reductions. Responsibility for the defense of the Aleutian Islands was transferred to U.S. Pacific Command, again creating a lack of unity of command for Alaskan defense. U.S. Army Alaska was inactivated in 1974, and ALCOM followed suit in 1975.

Joint Task Force-Alaska was created to replace ALCOM. It was a provisional organization activated in the event of war or disasters by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The problem of disjointed command was corrected in July 1989 with the creation of a new Alaskan Command, a subordinate unified command reporting to the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. This new command recognized Alaska’s important role in the Pacific by putting all military forces in the state Alaska and under the leadership of one commander.

11th Air Force

The 11th Air Force provides forces to maintain air superiority in Alaska and support Alaska-based ground forces, and combat-ready air forces for employment by unified commanders to preserve the national sovereignty of the United States and defend U.S. interests overseas.

The largest subordinate units in 11AF are the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf AFB, near Anchorage, and the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson AFB, near Fairbanks.

The 3rd Wing provides air defense and air superiority in Alaska, and supports Pacific Air Forces during contingencies in the U. S. Pacific Command area of responsibility. The 3rd Wing is equipped with the F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles. The wing's F-15C aircraft stand active air defense alert 24-hours-a-day, year-round in support of the North American Aerospace Defense mission, while the F-15Es have a rapid deployment mission.

Military airlift in Alaska is provided by the 3rd Wing's 517th Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf AFB with C-130 Hercules and C-12 aircraft. The 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron flies the E-3 Sentry, a modified Boeing 707 equipped with a convert|30|ft|m|sing=on diameter rotodome mounted above the fuselage. The E-3 can direct friendly fighter aircraft to intercept and identify unknown aircraft as they enter U.S. airspace and also augment existing ground-based radar systems by providing a survivable airborne radar platform during hostilities.

The 354th Fighter Wing uses the F-16 Fighting Falcon to provide close air support and battlefield air interdiction requirements of the United States Army Alaska and Pacific Air Forces mobility commitments. The OA-10 Thunderbolt II provides forward air control for joint U.S. Army and Air Force contingencies.

Remote locations of the 11AF are operated by the 611th Air Support Group at Elmendorf AFB. Those locations include: Galena and King Salmon airports, Eareckson Air Station on Shemya Island, and a network of 18 Air Force radar sites throughout Alaska.

When mobilized, the state's Air National Guard becomes an integral part of Pacific Air Forces and Alaskan Command. The Alaska Air National Guard maintains KC-135 Tankers(168th Air Refueling Wing), C-130s and air rescue HH-60 Pavehawk helicopters(176th Wing).

U.S. Army Alaska

U.S. Army Alaska is a subordinate element of U.S. Army Pacific, headquartered at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. The new organization, commanded by a major general, is a result of a Department of the Army decision in March 1993 to downsize the 6th Infantry Division (Light), which was the principal Army unit in Alaska, and reactivate the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate).

USARAK’s mission is to be prepared to deploy rapidly in the Pacific theater and elsewhere as directed in support of contingency operations, U.S. Pacific Command objectives and United States national interests.

U.S. Army Alaska is home to two brigade-equivalent headquarters, a separate infantry brigade and the United States Army Garrison as well as tenant organizations and Reserve Component units. The 172d Infantry Brigade (Separate) is headquartered at Fort Wainwright and consists of three infantry battalions, an artillery battalion, a support battalion, and four separate supporting companies.

Headquartered at Fort Richardson are the Special Troops battalion, a Theater Army Aviation battalion and detachments of the personnel and finance battalions. The U.S. Army Garrison is also headquartered at Fort Richardson, and includes a Headquarters company at each installation, the Law Enforcement Command and the Noncommissioned Officer's Academy.

Tenant organizations are located at each USARAK installation and include the USA Medical Department Activity -- Alaska, USA Dental Activity -- Alaska, a signal battalion, and the Bureau of Land Management.

The Reserve Component units located throughout the state include a National Guard Infantry Group (Scout) consisting of three Infantry Battalions, a Support Battalion, an Aviation Battalion, and an United States Army Reserve Engineer Company (B-411, whose battalion headquarters are in Hawaii [] ) and a Reserve Hospital.

Also present, formed in 2005, is Aviation Task Force 49. Currently, Task Force 49 is composed of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-52d General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB), 6-17 Cavalry Regiment, D/123d Assault Company (UH-60), and C-123d Aviation Maintenance Company (AVIM). [U.S. Army Fort Wainwright site]

U.S. Naval Forces Alaska

The commander of the 17th Coast Guard District, United States Coast Guard, commands U.S. Naval Forces Alaska, accomplishing both the peacetime and wartime naval tasks in the state. Major peacetime responsibilities include search and rescue, law enforcement of territorial waters, maintenance of navigational maritime aides and ensuring maritime safety.

District 17 forces are located at Petersburg, Juneau, Ketchikan, Homer, Seward, Tok, Anchorage, Kenai, Valdez, Nome, St. Paul, and three air stations at Kodiak, Sitka and Cordova (seasonal). The district uses a wide variety of vessels, including tenders, patrol boats and medium endurance cutters. During wartime, Coast Guard forces provide the majority of naval forces in Alaska for the defense of the state's convert|33000|mi|km of shoreline.

Military/economic importance of Alaska

Alaska lies across the great circle routes connecting the Orient with Europe and North America, making it an ideal refueling location for aircraft using polar or near-polar routes. Military installations in Alaska are much closer to the Orient and Europe than many in the contiguous United States, providing a staging location for a rapid military response capability.

Additionally, Russia’s Big Diomede and Alaska’s Little Diomede islands are only two miles apart in the middle of the Bering Strait - making it possible to walk from one to the other during winter.

Alaska’s mineral wealth is considerable. The state provides 25% of U.S. oil production and it is estimated that it contains 30% of U.S. oil reserves. Nearly 65% of total U.S. zinc production comes from Alaska; large quantities of natural gas, coal, iron and copper are also available in the state. Commercial fisheries in the state provide more than 50% of the U.S. total fish harvest.

Alaska offers a unique Arctic environment for military training. The state is home to some of the largest airspace ranges in the world and more than 1.5 million acres (6000 km²) of manouvre areas. Premier combat airpower exercises are conducted throughout the year and all military services train with an emphasis on perfecting joint war-fighting doctrine and tactics.

See also

*Eleventh Air Force
*United States Army, Alaska
*Joint Task Force-Alaska
*U.S. Naval Forces Alaska

External links

* [ Alaskan Command] (official site)
* [ United States Army, Alaska] (official site)

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