By Dick Martin
In testimony before the House Committee on Military Affairs in 1935, visionary, but controversial one-star General Billy Mitchell, who is considered to be the father of the US Air Force, testified that “in the future, whoever holds Alaska will hold the world.” Even more prescient was Secretary of State William Seward who 154 years ago purchased for 2 cents an acre the 586,000 square miles of land rich in natural resources and a future strategic military possession in any face-off with China, Russia, North Korea, Iran which are thousands of miles closer to Alaska than any other point in the continental United States.
I first became aware of this when I was sent to Korea in January 1972. Our packed troop plane left in the morning from Seattle when it was still dark and made a refueling stop at Anchorage where it was still dark. I never did figure out if it was am or pm.
Alaska’s military significance is due to it being on the polar route for any missile attack from our potential adversaries. This is why Alaska is the heart of America’s missile defense, with 40 interceptor missiles on standby and more to be added this year. In addition, the US has decided to base over 100 of its best fighter jets in Alaska.
Recently, a member of the Senate has described the 13-page arctic policy prepared by the pentagon in 2013 as a joke. As a result, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force have all released more serious policy reports, ie the army now has a 1st Striker Brigade, based at Ft Wainwright, Alaska, that can be anywhere in the northern Hemisphere in seven hours.
Of course, one must keep in mind that while “Alaska offers the quickest flight access to strategic locations across the Pacific region and western Russia.” The strategy notes “it is also the shortest distance for adversaries to threaten the homeland with strategic air and missile attacks.”
Taken from an article in the Washington Examiner “Alaska’s growing strategic importance” written by Jamie McIntyre