With its strategic physical location for Army, Coast Guard, and Air Force bases, Alaska is home to 19,400 active duty military members. While it doesn’t currently have any Navy or Marine Corps bases, Alaska is also called home by over 5,000 military civilians and 4,700 military Reserve members. The Last Frontier is a very military-friendly place, with its largest military presence being located in Fairbanks and Anchorage. It is known for its quality schools, unique outdoor opportunities, and supportive communities, making it a great place for military families, in addition to active duty members. Below is a list of all the bases, by branch, that you will find located in Alaska.
Alaska Military Bases
With ten bases in total (one operating as a Joint Base), Alaska has a high percentage of residents who are connected to the military in one way or another. The branch with the largest military presence in Alaska is the United States Army, having three bases in total, which are home to around 10,000 Army soldiers. With the substantial Army presence in Alaska, they also have around 1,800 Army National Guard members, in addition to the active duty soldiers for whom Alaska is home.
Air Force Bases in Alaska
Just a short drive from the town of “North Pole,” Eielson Air Force Base is located 26 miles south of Fairbanks, Alaska, and gets quite cold in the winter. Established in 1943, the base covers around 19,700 acres, most of which is made up of wetlands, forests, and lakes. With approximately 5,500 people living on base, Eielson’s main mission is to train and equip soldiers for close air support of ground troops operating in arctic environments.
Operating as a joint base, Elmendorf-Richardson, or JBER, is a combination of United States Air Force Base Elmendorf and United States Army Base Richardson. The two bases were merged together in 2010 and it is considered to be an OCONUS base as it is located in Anchorage, Alaska. Home to the Asia-Pacific command, JBER houses the 673rd Air Base Wing, US Army Alaska, Alaskan Command, and the 4th Bridge Combat Team (Airbourne). Due to such a large base being located in Anchorage, the population of Anchorage itself is made up of mostly military personnel and their families, with over 29,000 military-affiliated people in the area.
Clear Air Force Base
Clear Air Force Base is located in Denali Borough, Alaska and is considered one of the most strategically important bases in the United States. Due to its location, it is an invaluably important location for west coast defense monitoring as well as the whole of the United States. It was one of the very first stations to put early detection installations to use in order to monitor for intercontinental nuclear ballistic missile launches (ICBM) as well as enemy ballistic missiles. The base also plays a role in the United States’ space operations due to its possession of cutting edge radar and satellite capabilities.
Army Bases in Alaska
Fort Greely is a United States Army launch site for anti-ballistic missiles that is located southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska. The fort was initially built in 1942 and was originally intended to be Big Delta Army Airfield. However, by 1949, it was determined that it would become a permanent location for the US Army. It is mainly used to train officers on how to operate in cold conditions due to the fact that is is located so far north.
Located close to Fairbanks, Alaska, Fort Wainwright was established in 1961 when the US Airforce transferred Ladd Field to the Army. During the first 10 years in operation as an Army base, Fort Wainwright, which is named after WWII General Jonathan M. Wainwright, was home to the 171st Infantry Brigade. However, in both the 80s and 90s, it was instead the base of the 6th Infantry Division, before yet again changing to be home to the 172nd Infantry Brigade in the late 90s and into the 21st century.
Named after Brigadier General Wilds P. Richardson, Fort Richardson is headquarters to the United States Army, Alaska, which is one of the United States Army Pacific Command units. Opened in 1941, Fort Richardson is home to the only airborne Army division in the Pacific Theater, with Task Force 1-501 being based there. The base occupies 62,000 acres of land used for housing complexes and other facilities.
Navy Bases in Alaska
There are currently no U.S. Navy Bases located in Alaska.
Coast Guard Bases in Alaska
The ISC Coast Guard base Kodiak is home to over 3,500 active and retired military personnel, in addition to DHS civilians and family members, making it one of the largest in the world. Also known as the ‘Emerald Isle,” Kodiak is the second-largest island that is owned by the United States and it is located 250 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Air Station Sitka
The Coast Guard Air Station Sitka, located in Sitka, Alaska, is responsible for the entire southwest region of Alaska. With their designated flight environment being made up of isolated and rugged coastline, their area of responsibility is one of the most demanding in regards to flying for Coast Guard aircraft operations. Not only is the flight terrain responsible for this demand, due to the fact that there are many small and isolated villages that this base attends to, they often encounter vast distances between fuel catches, severe weather, and dangerous landing sites.
Located in Alaska’s capital, United States Coast Guard Base Juneau is responsible for a wide range of areas due to its strategic location. It is considered by most people to be the hub of the 17th District and Coast Guard operations, and its coverage area spans over four different time zones including several hundred miles of open ocean. One of their main focuses is the threat of ice and icebergs following the sinking of the Titanic in 1913, when ice patrolling became a major focus of the United States Coast Guard. Using cutters and aircraft, the Coast Guard Base Juneau spends most of their time patrolling and watching for large ice flows in order to alert ships of any unusual activity.
Marine Safety Unit Valdez
Due to its strategic location, Marine Safety Unit Valdez Coast Guard Base is used mostly for ice patrolling missions, search and rescue (SAR), environmental tasks, and maintenance. As the Coast Guard is the less popular of the American armed forces, this base is often overlooked. However, they provide a unique vantage point when it comes to ice patrolling missions, as it is much more difficult for bases farther south to be able to successfully complete missions of this manner.
Marine Corps Bases in Alaska
There are currently no U.S. Marine Corps Bases located in Alaska.
While the overall population of Alaska, compared to other states, remains relatively small, a large majority of the people who reside there have connections to the United States military. The different branches who have a presence in Alaska not only helped shape the way cities have developed, but they work to keep the people of Alaska, in addition to the entirety of the United States, safe.