As climate change opens up the Arctic for transit and exploration, Russia has increasingly militarized the region. The U.S. is preparing a more aggressive presence of its own.
Army Specialist Joseph Salas works from a vantage point during recent cold-weather military exercises in Alaska. Credit... Ash Adams for The New York Times
DELTA JUNCTION, Alaska — After parachuting into the frigid Alaska interior, Capt. Weston Iannone and his soldiers navigated miles through deep snow, finally setting up a temporary outpost on a ridgeline next to a grove of lanky spruce trees that were also struggling to survive.
Darkness was setting in, the temperature had fallen below zero, and the 120 men and women who had gathered as part of a major combat training exercise in subarctic Alaska had not yet erected tents. The supply line for fuel, essential to keep warm through the long night ahead, was lagging behind.
“Everything is a challenge, from water, fuel, food, moving people, keeping them comfortable,” said Captain Iannone, the 27-year-old company commander, as his soldiers shoveled deeper into the snow in search of a solid foundation to put up their sleeping quarters. “This is inherent training — understanding how far we can push physically and mentally.”