This month, the US Chief of Staff of the Army and Secretary of the Army announced to the senate that the army plans to reactivate the 11th Airborne Division in Alaska. There are currently two major units in the state: the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne); they will form the core of the new division. Supporting elements in Alaska will also become part of the division. In other words, the 11th Airborne division is replacing US Army Alaska.
The two brigade combat teams in Alaska are currently part of the 25th Infantry Division which is based out of Hawaii where two other divisional brigade combat teams, the division’s aviation brigade and other supporting elements are located.
The army hopes that splitting the 25th division in two will allow what has thus been organized as “US Army Alaska” to form a new, stronger identity that will reinforce the army’s growing focus on the arctic region. According to Chief of Staff of the Army General. James C. McConville:
“The 11th has a great history and heritage that means a lot to Soldiers. Also, we’re looking at the Arctic very differently. We put out a strategy. We think it’s very different. […] We’ve got to be able to operate in that environment. We have to make sure the units have the capabilities, and that gives them the confidence to be special. They have the right vehicles to operate in the coldest climate. They have the right equipment and the right clothing. All those things come together to give them a sense of identity.”
The 11th Airborne Division was one of the five formed during World War II and the only one to operate in the Pacific Theater. After seeing action on the islands of Leyete and Luzon during the war, the division played a major role in the occupation of Japan between 1945 and 1949 and was eventually inactivated in 1958.