Stevens says Alaska troops face deployment in anti-terrorism war

Posted: Tuesday, October 09, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Troops from the Army brigade in Alaska would be among the first called up if regular ground troops are needed in the war against terrorism, according to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

The first ground soldiers to enter any combat would be ''commando-type'' troops, such as ones trained by the U.S. Southern Command based in Florida, Stevens said Monday. Some Alaska-based soldiers with specialized training also would be deployed, he said.

Stevens, R-Alaska, made his comments at a press conference in his Girdwood home. He avoided specifics of any troop movements, including where they might go, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Alaska has one Army brigade. The 172nd Infantry has about 3,500 soldiers stationed at Fort Richardson in Anchorage and Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks.

Stevens was in Girdwood after flying to Los Angeles on Friday night to visit his sister, who had suffered a heart attack. He planned to be back in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.

Stevens also spoke about the Afghanistan raids and the future of federal funding for Alaska programs.

He said the Afghanistan strikes are ''the right thing'' in part because they are intended to take out installations that might prevent U.S. missions and the mission is trying avoid killing civilians.

''We didn't want to symbolically try to wake up somebody that we had the capability,'' he said. ''We wanted to start using that capability in a way that in the long run would essentially shorten the war.''

Stevens said Anchorage, like many communities its size, should expect to get money requested to prepare for potential terrorist attacks. Funds should be available especially for the security of airports, docks, railroads and the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

The city wants nearly $11 million to pay for equipment, supplies and training to respond to chemical, biological and other ''weapons of mass destruction.'' Congress reserved a portion of a recent $40 million appropriation for counter-terrorism measures.

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