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Austin Begins Indo-Pacific Visit in Alaska

July 24, 2021 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III landed in Fairbanks, Alaska, yesterday beginning a weeklong trip to the Indo-Pacific.

It's the secretary's second trip to what he has called the Defense Department's "priority region" since taking office in January.

A man walks down some stairs that are outside the door of a plane.
Alaska Arrival
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III arrives in Fairbanks, Alaska, beginning a weeklong trip to the Indo-Pacific region. Austin will meet with local military and civilian leaders.
Photo By: Jim Garamone, DOD
VIRIN: 210723-D-FN314-001C

"I think it'll be a really good visit: you'll hear me talk a lot about partnerships and the value of partnerships," Austin told reporters traveling with him. "We believe that we're a stabilizing force; no matter where we are, what part of the world, we add value to the stability of the region. So, my goal is to strengthen relationships."

Alaska is a cornerstone of America's defense in the Indo-Pacific. The state is home to some of DOD's most modern systems, including F-22 Raptors and F-35 Lightning IIs — fifth generation aircraft that can dominate any battlespace. Alaska is also home to ground-based missile defense sites. These systems — manned by members of the Alaska National Guard — are key to America's defense from rogue states.

Two man shake hands as others stand around.
Austin Greeting
Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III is greeted by Maj. Gen. Brian S. Eifler, commanding general of the U.S. Army Alaska, during a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, July 23, 2021. Alaska is the first stop in a seven-day trip to the Indo-Pacific region. Austin will also visit Singapore, Hanoi, Vietnam, and Manila, Philippines, as he meets with key leaders to reaffirm defense relationships and conduct bilateral meetings with senior officials.
Photo By: Chad McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 210723-D-TT977-0114

Soldiers based in Alaska are key to America's Arctic strategy and are integral forces for the Indo-Pacific. Army personnel have deployed to work with allies throughout the region and have conducted exercises and operations with many allies and partners.

Austin will travel on to Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines before returning to Washington.