By Ashley Nation
A little over 1,000 new recruits have picked Alaska for their first duty station in the Army. Each Alaska Army base has a reputation of being rather rugged and isolating, but Soldiers are not shying away from the challenge. This surplus in volunteers also comes not long after the reinstatement of the 11th Airborne Division. The Army is clearly investing in Alaska.

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Why Are People Choosing the Alaska Army Base?

Earlier in 2022, the Army announced that they would now be letting Soldiers pick their first duty station following basic training. In the past, Soldiers had little influence over where the Army would station them, but on August 1, 2022, the list of postings to choose from increased to 32 locations in total. That list included the Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright Army bases in Alaska. Not even two months later, recruits are jumping at the chance to experience the Alaska military. In an interview with Military.com, Major General Brian Eifler of the 11th Airborne Division said, "Every person we get that wants to be here is an added plus. The more people you have… the better off you'll be." The Army is in the midst of a serious decline in recruitment, so this is an important win that supports their plans to create an elite force out of the Soldiers in Alaska.

What To Expect in Alaska Military Postings

Shipping to Alaska is not for everyone; however, many Veterans and other service members will list their Alaskan assignments as some of their top missions out of their military experience. The Fairbanks Alaska Army bases are a personal favorite. Some love them for the Cost-Of-Living Adjustments (COLA) and BAH. Others love the remoteness and beautiful scenery. The majority of the state is pro-military, which lends itself to lots of support and very regular business discounts. On the other hand, there are certainly some difficulties that come with being stationed at an Alaska Army base. Everyone has to adjust to the frigid environment, time zone difference, high cost of traveling, and labor shortages in surrounding recreational facilities. Nevertheless, these struggles don’t have to ruin your experience. The best thing you can do is conduct proper research before you choose your preferred first duty station and walk into your new assignment with the right mindset.

Growing U.S. Army Alaska Installations

This year, the U.S. Army is truly focusing on bettering the experience for Soldiers in Alaska. Lieutenant General Donna W. Martin, Army Inspector General, shared that Fort Wainwright and other Alaska Army bases present a different set of challenges to new Soldiers. “First-term Soldiers are the Army’s most vulnerable population,” she says. “They are new to the Army culture, working through transitions, and integrating into their units and squads. This newness can be overwhelming, specifically for a Soldier who is far from family and serving in an austere environment like Alaska.” Thus, the Army is continually looking for improvements to make toward the new Soldier experience. That, along with the nice bonuses the Army periodically offers specifically for Alaska prospects, makes this state an attractive choice. Would Alaska be your top choice?

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