Pentagon ponders where to build new Ted Stevens Arctic Center. Alaska? Maybe.

An image of 2018 Arctic sea ice minimum extent, with red line representing the 30-year average. (NASA Scientific Visualization Studio)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week announced the establishment of the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies. But the center doesn’t physically exist yet. It doesn’t have any staff. And it might be located far from the Arctic. 

A Defense Department spokesman said three cities are under consideration for housing the Ted Stevens Center: Anchorage, Colorado Springs and Washington, D.C.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she’s made it very clear to Secretary Austin she expects the center to be located in Alaska.

“He acknowledged that he was fully aware of that,” she said.

The Defense Department has five other regional defense study centers. They are academic forums and hubs for building international alliances. One in Hawaii is named for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye: He and Sen. Stevens were close friends.

The Pentagon didn’t originate the idea of an Arctic center. It’s a congressional mandate, added by the Alaska delegation. Murkowski inserted $10 million for it in an appropriations bill. 

The Pentagon spokesman said the department will “immediately” begin the work of hiring a director. The Alaska delegation has already submitted its list of preferred candidates, Murkowski said.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her Read more about Lizhere.

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