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Alaskan Command joins U.S. Northern Command

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AFNS) -- Alaska is poised to play an increasingly important role in the development of military capabilities in the Arctic following a reassignment of command responsibilities.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel approved a proposal on Oct. 27 to reassign Alaskan Command, a sub-unified command commonly known as ALCOM to the U.S. Northern Command, which is the military's combatant command responsible for North America and the Arctic. ALCOM previously fell under the U.S. Pacific Command.

The move should be transparent to most military personnel in Alaska, and will not have an impact on the size or budget of ALCOM.

Gen. Charles Jacoby, the commander of both U.S. Northern Command and the combined US-Canada North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said the move provides a better command structure for the defense of North America.

"This is an important step in integrating our defense across North America," Jacoby said. "It places our nation in a better position to plan and execute homeland defense and civil support missions in Alaska, and reflects the growing strategic value of the Arctic to our nation's defense.

"Simply put, this move makes the most sense as we seek a more cohesive approach to defending North America," he said.

ALCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Russ Handy said the transfer streamlines command and control in Alaska and improves the ability of U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Northern Command to execute their missions.

"This will improve partnerships with our Canadian neighbors and international allies in order to optimize support to all combatant commanders in the context of the evolving Arctic environment," Handy said. "We do not anticipate any major changes to the size and scope of our headquarters. In fact, this re-alignment strongly reaffirms the critical importance of what the men and women of ALCOM do every day in support of our national interests."

The shift was recommended by both Jacoby and his Pacific Command counterpart, Adm. Samuel Locklear.

U.S. Northern Command, also known as USNORTHCOM, is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was created in 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to serve as a single military command responsible for defense of the U.S. homeland.

The Alaskan Command is responsible for maximizing theater force readiness for Alaskan service members and expediting worldwide contingency force deployments from and through Alaska. The command closely integrates headquarters activities with Alaskan NORAD Region, the 11th Air Force and U.S. Army Alaska. Department of Defense forces in Alaska include more than 22,000 Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine personnel, and 4,700 Guardsmen and Reservists.

(Courtesy of Alaskan Command Public Affairs)