AUSA NEWS: Army To Test Extreme Cold Weather Equipment for Arctic Forces
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Army continues its efforts to regain dominance in the Arctic region, the service is looking into better ways to enable soldiers to effectively operate in extreme cold weather conditions, a service official said Oct. 12.
With more of its forces operating in the Arctic, this winter the Army will be testing clothing and equipment which can handle the extreme cold weather for the service’s battle brigade in Alaska, said Doug Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.
This equipment is “lighter but provides even better capability,” Bush said during a media roundtable at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.
The Army released an Arctic Strategy in 2021 which included the establishment of a multi-domain task force enabled division headquarters in the Arctic region, and this past June reactivated the 11th Airborne Division in Alaska which will serve as the service’s “leading experts for Arctic military operations,” according to an Army release.
The Army also awarded BAE Systems a $278 million contract to build the service’s new Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle in August.
“That's going to replace some more than 20-year-old vehicles in Alaska — and in some other places — to provide more Arctic mobility,” Bush said of the vehicle, also known as CATV.
Bush highlighted industry’s ability to provide capabilities for soldiers operating in extreme weather conditions such as in the Arctic.
“In the military … we have requirements for things that are on the edges. Private sector might not need a truck that could operate over a sustained period of extreme cold weather — well, we do," he said.
The Army is also looking for alternative energy sources to power its Arctic installations as part of the service’s climate strategy, said the Army’s assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment Rachel Jacobson. In its climate strategy, the service has set a goal of achieving on-site carbon pollution-free power generation for Army critical missions on all of its installations by 2040.
“We're … mindful that installation needs in those [Arctic] environments are going to be different, especially as we look at non-carbon sources of energy,” Jacobson said.
The Army is going to “piggyback” off and gather data from the Air Force’s efforts to place a nuclear reactor on a base in Alaska and will also be exploring geothermal power options for its Arctic installations, she said.
The Department of the Air Force released a request for proposal on Sept. 26 for the Eielson Air Force Base Micro-Reactor Pilot Program on Sept. 26. The program was “initiated in response to the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act requirement to construct and operate a micro-reactor by the end of 2027” at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks North Star, Alaska, according to an Air Force press release.