(NewsNation) — Many call Alaska the last frontier. But in the eyes of one retired U.S. Air Force general, it could wind up being an all-important area of focus for the U.S. military.
Speaking on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Thursday, retired Maj. Gen. William Enyart of the U.S. Air Force says the the Army is paying very close attention to two things in their revamp in the region.
“We’ve got the Ukraine-Russia war on one hand and, with that, we have learned that the survivability of armor — that is tanks and armored personnel carriers — is really in question today with the use of the drones and light anti-armor weapons that are man portable,” Enyart said on the program.
During World War II, armored vehicles dominated the battlefield, but Enyart says that’s dramatically changed with with the development of those new weapons.
The second factor the Army is looking at, Enyart said, is the upcoming addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO.
After Finland’s leaders Thursday came out in favor of applying to join NATO — with Sweden vying to do the same within days, in a historic realignment on the continent — the Kremlin reacted by warning it will be forced to take retaliatory “military-technical” steps.
With Finland having an 830-mile border with Russia and Sweden being a major power in the Arctic Circle region, Enyart stresses the need for capable military equipment.
“Winter warfare is different. We learned that in Korea and the Germans learned that in the Soviet Union in WWII,” Enyart explained. “Soldiers freeze, equipment freezes, weapons freeze, so we have to be able to operate in that environment.”
This kind of preparation has happened in war before: During the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, prior to WWII, the Germans and Italians used air power and other new weapons, and developed new tactics.
In Alaska, the Army is introducing innovation as well, changing the Fourth brigade of the 25th Infantry Division, which is called a striker brigade, to an airborne infantry brigade.
“A striker brigade requires a lot of maintenance and in order to move on by air, it takes about 96 hours,” Enyart explained. “On the other hand, you can move in airborne infantry brigade in 18 hours.”
On whether he sees the U.S. actually having to use these weapons and fight an Arctic war, Emyart says, “We have to prepare.
“That’s why we plan and … that’s why we study the current operations so that we know what capabilities an opponent might have and how to counter those capabilities.”