By Maj Gen Thomas H. Katkus
June 09, 2010
Alaska requires infrastructure to reach resources and improve
the economy. Governor Sean Parnell created the Alaska Military
Force Advocacy and Structure Team (AMFAST) to provide recommendations
for cooperative projects that support and expand the military
industry in our state. As chairman of the AMFAST, I am pleased
to tell you that our short-term strategic plan has already yielded
This year's capital budget includes $40 million towards construction
of the Tanana River Bridge. This structure is a dual-use rail
and wheeled-vehicle crossing that provides dependable year round
access to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC). This
project is the highest priority for the active military component
in our state, and military leaders in the Pacific Theater.
The development of this training facility allows maximum use
by existing military resources in our state and provides tremendous
opportunity to units from other states and countries to train
in this remote area. The JPARC provides unparalleled training
with minimal impact to existing civilian communities. Increased
training activity correlates directly to increased dollars into
our economy. These dollars will travel with the troops from the
port of entry at Anchorage or the Mat-Su Borough, and end in
Fairbanks and North Pole when Soldiers spend time in the community
between exercises and training events. The work force to develop
and maintain this vast complex is also a healthy addition.
Another success comes from the $4 million appropriated to the
Alaska Aerospace Corporation specifically for the Kodiak Launch
Complex. Like an airport, a space port has fixed operating costs
that drive the capability of doing business. This money adds
more jobs to the economy by making launches more competitive
in the world space market.
More launches mean more jobs, and more jobs mean more demand
for educated students from the University of Alaska. The Kodiak
Launch Complex is located at a sweet spot for payload delivery
into polar orbits. The same rockets launched from Kodiak can
lift more cargo into space than competitive space ports.
As launches increase and operations expand, more money will flow
into local economies across the state. The military will have
access to a state of the art launch facility and private space
companies will have immediate launch capability that is second
to none for accessing polar orbits.
Continuing to work together, local, state and federal entities
will build infrastructure projects that will benefit the residents
of Alaska for the next 100 years while significantly improving
our quality of life today. The AMFAST team will give many more
recommendations to the Governor and work in earnest with the
We can partner military research and development projects with
the University of Alaska. We can hire unmanned aerial vehicles
from the Alaska Aerospace Corporation to monitor wildlife in
the ocean, or the ice pack in the Arctic. We can even work together
to develop synthetic fuels to power our aircraft and automobiles
that will complement our existing traditional hydrocarbon production.
We are currently building the AMFAST long range strategic plan
with the help and recommendations of many local leaders across
the state. We will forward those recommendations to the Governor
in July. Together we will make the United States military stronger
in Alaska and improve the economy at the same time by capitalizing
on the incredible opportunities our great state provides.
About: Born in the Territory
of Alaska, Major General Thomas H. Katkus was raised north of
Wasilla at his family's homestead. He is the son of immigrant
parents and his father was a World War II veteran who spent his
civilian career at the Alaska Railroad. He has spent his entire
military career in the Alaska National Guard and is currently
the Adjutant General and Commissioner of the Department of Military
and Veterans Affairs.
Received June 09, 2010 - Published
June 09, 2010
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