New Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies opens at JBER

a plane takes off
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. (Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)

A new regional center established by the Department of Defense in Anchorage will focus on Arctic security and connecting military and civilian stakeholders in the region. 

The Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies will operate at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. It’s the sixth regional center established by Defense Department. The others are in Germany, Hawaii and Washington, D.C. 

Senior Advisor for Arctic Security Affairs Major General Randy “Church” Kee said on Talk of Alaska Tuesday that other cities were considered for the new center, but Anchorage was ultimately chosen because of its location near the Arctic and other assets. 

“Anchorage actually is kind of a mini-Washington, D.C. as far as the number of federal agencies that are here,” Kee said. “You also have a number of consulates here that represent eight nations who have Arctic interests. And then of course you have also, the fact you have an Arctic Indigenous community, lots of headquarters here, for example Alaska Native Corporations.”

The Stevens Center, named for the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, will operate out of an existing building on JBER using a “hub and network” approach, hosting symposiums and engaging with stakeholders in and outside Alaska, including other Arctic nations. 

Kee said research and analysis will help the defense department plan for future needs in the Arctic and will also help inform policy decisions.

Craig Fleener is the deputy advisor for the Stevens Center. He said security studies extend beyond national defense. They plan to work with researchers, Indigenous communities, environmental agencies and the energy industry. 

“We’ll travel to communities across the Arctic and invite people from communities to come here, to participate,” Fleener said. “We know that this is a high-priority area for the people of the Arctic so engagement and outreach is of significant importance to us.”

Fleener said they hope to be a “one-stop shop” for research and collaboration in the Arctic. One of their mission areas includes addressing the impacts of climate change in the region.

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Adelyn Baxter is Alaska Public Media's program producer. Reach her at abaxter@alaskapublic.org.