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Homeland Security

Agreement signed for integrated defense of Alaska

6/26/2009 - ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFNS) -- Joint Task Force Alaska and 17th Coast Guard District officials signed a memorandum of understanding June 23 here to facilitate coordination of the missions under the auspices of JTF-Alaska with those performed by U.S. Coast Guard District 17.

The memorandum signals a common understanding between Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, Commander, the JTF-Alaska commander; and Coast Coast Rear Adm. Gene Brooks, the 17th Coast Guard District commander; for heightened emphasis on alignment of the two organizations in support of a unified approach to the security and defense of Alaska.

Alaska is a unique maritime environment in which most goods and services supporting the state enter via maritime routes. Additionally, many of Alaska's major port facilities are located deep in internal waters suggesting the need for innovative solutions bridging across the maritime, air, and land domains.

The memorandum recognizes the Coast Guard as a likely first responder for any maritime homeland defense operation in the waters surrounding Alaska due to its resident capability and expertise gleaned from its long standing tradition of maritime service to the state. It emphasizes coordination between the two commands to successfully blend Department of Defense's responsibilities with those of the Department of Homeland Security through planning, training, exercises and operations conducted by JTF-Alaska and District 17 officials. It also sets the stage for future cooperation as the northern approaches to Alaska become a more prominent topic as shipping activity increases in the Arctic Ocean.

"This memorandum codifies the strong relation between JTF-Alaska and U.S. Coast Guard District 17 as we refine the integration of all military services under a joint military mindset in order to meet future challenges," said U.S. Navy Capt. Tom Meadows, the director of plans and policy for JTF-Alaska.

Quoting renowned World War I flier Brig. Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell, Admiral Brooks took this opportunity to reiterate the strategic importance of Alaska.

"I believe in the future. Whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. It is the most important strategic place in the world." Admiral Brooks continued, "Those words spoken almost 75 years ago still hold true today."

JTF-Alaska, a subordinate JTF of U.S. Northern Command, has responsibility for homeland defense, defense support to civil authorities, and anti-terrorism/force protection missions within the JTF-Alaska joint operating area. The Coast Guard is a military, maritime, multimission service within the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to protecting the safety and security of America.

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