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Air Force chief scientists see Alaska as "central"

A researcher from the Permafrost Research Tunnel Facility in Fox, Alaska, demonstrates changing permafrost features to members of the U.S. Air Force Chief Scientist’s Group during a visit July 22, 2019. The Air Force scientists visited Alaska to tour facilities relevant to the Arctic, missile defense, and operational missions of the Joint Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Peter Shinn)

A researcher from the Permafrost Research Tunnel Facility in Fox, Alaska, demonstrates changing permafrost features to members of the U.S. Air Force Chief Scientist’s Group during a visit July 22, 2019. The Air Force scientists visited Alaska to tour facilities relevant to the Arctic, missile defense and operational missions of the Joint Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Peter Shinn)

Dr. Richard Joseph, Air Force chief scientist, stands with other Air Force major command chief scientists during a visit to University of Alaska-Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, July 22, 2019. The group visited scientific facilities and military installations across Alaska during a week-long visit highlighting the strategic importance of the nation's largest, northernmost state.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Peter Shinn)

Dr. Richard Joseph, Air Force chief scientist, stands with other Air Force major command chief scientists during a visit to University of Alaska-Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, July 22, 2019. The group visited scientific facilities and military installations across Alaska during a week-long visit highlighting the strategic importance of the nation's largest, northernmost state. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Peter Shinn)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AFNS) --

A group of the Air Force’s top scientists, led by Dr. Richard Joseph, Air Force chief scientist, visited military installations in Alaska to discuss the Air Force Science and Technology Strategy and tour facilities relevant to the Arctic, missile defense and operation missions of the joint forces, July 22-26, 2019.

"Alaska is home to the most amazing scientific facilities in the country, and is a very important place in terms of national defense," Joseph said. "The Arctic region is becoming increasingly important and central to defense of our homeland."

Col. Mario Serna, military assistant to the Air Force chief scientist, gained key insights into Alaska's changing environmental conditions and their implications for military installations.

"We've seen through the Permafrost Research Tunnels, run by (the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory), how the permafrost is moving," Serna explained. "Permafrost is not going to have the same permanence that once was thought. This information is important for us to continue our strategic planning for military installations in Alaska."

A total of 22 Air Force scientists took part in the Alaska visit, including Dr. Mike Farrar, Air Force Weather Operations chief scientist.

"Science doesn't know organizational boundaries," Farrar said. "All the chief scientists here have their own budgets, and their own concerns and their own programs, but here we get together and think corporately Air Force-wide, and that's a big benefit."

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