The U.S. Army is poised to revamp its forces in Alaska to better prepare for future cold-weather conflicts, and it is expected to replace the larger, heavily equipped Stryker Brigade in the state with a more mobile infantry unit better suited for the frigid fight, Army leaders say. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said she expects to make a final decision soon about the Alaska troop change, saying she will likely convert the Stryker unit, which uses heavy, eight-wheeled vehicles, to an infantry brigade. “I think right now the purpose of Army forces in Alaska is much more about creating an extreme cold weather capable formation” that could be used in Europe or the Indo-Pacific, Wormuth told The Associated Press on a recent trip to Alaska to meet with senior commanders and troops. “We’re trying to get to a place where we have Arctic capable forces — forces that can survive and operate in that environment.” The U.S. has long viewed the Arctic as a growing area of competition with Russia and China, particularly as climate change brings warmer temperatures and opens the sea lanes for longer periods of time. But officials have acknowledged that the U.S. lags behind those nations. Russia has taken steps to increase its military presence there, and China views the region as economically valuable for shipping and natural resources. The changes in the Army were under consideration well before U.S. tensions with Russia soared following its invasion of Ukraine. Under the new Army plan, the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, now based in Alaska, would be converted to a light infantry brigade. Combined with the division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat team, the two units will become the 11th Airborne Division, based in Alaska. And the large Stryker vehicles, which are somewhat old, would be replaced by other vehicles that are more suitable for the icy and snowy terrain, Wormuth said. The greater focus on cold-weather war includes a move to conduct major training exercises for the Alaska-based troops in their home state, under the weather conditions they would face in an Arctic fight. The troops had been scheduled to go to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in March, but Army leaders decided to keep them in Alaska so they could train under the frigid temperatures and frozen terrain that they would encounter in any cold-weather battle. “I think it really makes sense to have forces trained in the Arctic environments that they would be used for,” Wormuth said after spending two days at the still snowy base. “If we’re going to have ground forces in Alaska, that’s what we need them to be able to do. They can’t get that experience going to the Mojave Desert or to Fort Polk.” Last year, in an initial trial event, Pacific-based forces stayed in Hawaii for their scheduled exercises at the National Training Center in California’s Mohave Desert. Commanders said they have learned from these first two moves, as they try to recreate conditions and relocate personnel and equipment from well-established training centers to more remote locations. During her visit to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Wormuth met with commanders who called the training shift a success. Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, commander of U.S. Army Ala . . . read the full article here.