The new Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies will be located in Anchorage, Alaska, the U.S. Department of Defense announced on Wednesday.
A location within Anchorage has not yet been finalized.
Named for the late Alaska senator, the Stevens Center was created in June through the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, secured $10 million in funding in the 2021 appropriations package.
Locating the Stevens Center in Alaska “makes a lot of sense,” Douglas Causey, principal investigator at the Arctic Domain Awareness Center and a senior Arctic fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, told ArcticToday.
Anchorage is home to the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and to military leadership for the Alaskan Command, which is part of U.S. Northern Command.
“So the placement at Anchorage makes a lot of strategic sense,” Causey said.
It’s also important for a center like this to be located in Alaska in order to collaborate with Arctic experts in the state, he said — including those at the Arctic Domain Awareness Center, a Department of Homeland Security center located at University of Alaska Anchorage, which may partner “on areas of mutual interest,” he said.
In September, retired U.S. Air Force major general Randy “Church” Kee was appointed as senior advisor for Arctic security affairs at the center, a position reporting to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
Kee was previously the executive director of the Arctic Domain Awareness Center. In 2020, he was appointed a commissioner of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, but he resigned from the commission when he was appointed to the new position.
The Stevens Center was created for the U.S. military and partners to cooperate on security across the Arctic, including improving awareness, advancing defense department interests, upholding the rules-based order, and addressing the effects of climate change in the region.
It joins five other regional Defense Department centers, with three based in Washington, D.C., one in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, and one in Honolulu, Hawaii. Colorado Springs and Washington, D.C. were also considered as possible locations for the Stevens Center.
“We are the state that makes America an Arctic nation and our geostrategic location creates unparalleled possibilities available nowhere else,” Murkowski said in a statement, calling the state “the geostrategic crossroads of the world” and “the logical place” for an Arctic center.