Alaska's 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team operated four Strykers for two days during the joint, multi-agency exercise involving the Air Force, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the North Slope Borough. An Air Force C-17 delivered the Strykers and about 40 soldiers to Deadhorse -- a town about 500 miles north of Fairbanks with a population of 50 and a small airport -- the statement said.
The 1st Stryker Brigade regularly trains for rapid deployment to cold environments. Average winter temperatures in the area dip well below zero, with a record low of minus 57 Fahrenheit, the statement said. The wind-chill factor hit minus 96 in nearby Prudhoe Bay in 1989.
There is growing interest from nations in the Arctic region, as global warming slowly melts ice sheets that could create easier access to petroleum, heavy metals and fisheries.
Russia is particularly assertive in protecting its Arctic interests. It is building two infantry brigades in the region equipped with vehicles to move troops across snow.
Russia is also remilitarizing Wrangel Island off Siberia's northeast coast, directly across from Alaska, said Steve Gardner, academic director at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in California. A Russian radar installation began operations on the island in October 2014.
U.S. Army Alaska hosts the Army's only two brigade combat teams trained to operate in extremely cold regions, the statement said.
The Stryker was a mainstay during U.S. operations in Iraq and was deployed to Afghanistan as part of the 2009 "surge" order by President Barack Obama.