Defense secretary on board with keeping JBER unit

About 500 troops from the 4-25th Airborne Brigade are participating in exercise Talisman Saber in the South Pacific. (Photo: Zachariah Hughes/KSKA)
(File photo by Zachariah Hughes/KSKA)

Now even the Secretary of Defense says he’d reverse the plan to cut several thousand troops from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, nearly ensuring the Anchorage base will retain 4-25 Infantry Brigade Combat team, the only airborne unit of its kind in Pacific, at least for another year.

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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told Sen. Dan Sullivan today Alaska hosts “forces that are so critical to so many scenarios.”

“With respect to the 4-25, I looked into that after our conversation,” Carter said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Service Committee. “I’ve spoken to General Milley. If he makes that recommendation to me, I want you to know I’m going to approve that. I think that that is an important part of our force posture in the Pacific, and I appreciate your calling my attention to it.”

Gen. Mark Milley , the Army chief of staff, told a Senate committee last month it would be “contrary to strategic national security interests” to dismantle the 4-2-5 now. Milley said the team should be extended at least a year. But, according to Carter’s testimony today at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Milley hasn’t yet made the formal recommendation to the Defense secretary.