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US Army activates 11th Airborne Division in Alaska, bidding adieu to Strykers

US Army leaders activated the 11th Airborne Division in Alaska on 6 June in a bid to better prepare for cold-weather combat. To do this, the service is preparing to withdraw hundreds of Stryker vehicles from the northern state over the coming months and nail down plans to better outfit soldiers there with weather-appropriate gear and capabilities like the future Cold-Weather All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV).

Two brigade combat teams – the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, and the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division – have now been reflagged as the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 11th Airborne Division, and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 11th Airborne Division.

β€œThe Stryker brigade is going to become an infantry-based brigade combat team. We envision them having a strong air assault capability but also the ability to manoeuvre in the Arctic,” Army Chief of Staff General James McConville told reporters just before the ceremony. β€œ[By] fielding new equipment, like Cold-Weather All-Terrain Vehicles, and giving them the right equipment and the right clothing they can not only survive in this environment, but they will thrive.”

Although this plan is still evolving, the service will begin withdrawing the 300-plus Stryker vehicles from the state during the upcoming warmer months. These vehicles will then be stripped for spare parts or upgraded and prepositioned in other locations, the four-star general added.

He noted that the service is still analysing which capabilities these soldiers will need, including the right mix of aircraft to potentially support an air-assault-capable brigade.

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