The Army will redesignate its current Stryker element in Alaska to a light infantry brigade amid the formation of the 11th Airborne Division on Monday, according to a source with direct knowledge of the plans.
The move will sideline a fleet of roughly 320 Strykers in the state after multiple training exercises have shown the wheeled combat platform is no good in the frigid and snowy Arctic conditions.
About 12,000 soldiers in Alaska are being redesignated under a new formation -- the 11th Airborne Division. The 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, will be reformed as the 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team,11th Airborne Division.
It's unclear what will happen to the Army's Strykers in the region. There are no announced plans to form a new Stryker brigade in the mainland U.S. or in Europe. In May, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth suggested they may be used for spare parts for other units across the force.
Strykers are not built for the Arctic and are unable to operate reliably at minus-65 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the benchmark set by commanders for equipment in the region. The wheeled vehicle also doesn't maneuver well off-road in the snow and ice.
The Army wants to buy 13 Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicles in its proposed 2023 budget, which still needs approval by Congress. As a tracked vehicle, it's expected to be much better at navigating the rough, frozen terrain.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team will remain a light infantry formation for the foreseeable future, Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, commander of U.S. Army Alaska, told Military.com in May.
The 11th Airborne Division will not add any paratrooper capabilities to the Army's bottom line. Eifler, who will command the new division, says that could change, but there are no plans for it in the near future. Instead, one idea Army planners are mulling is having the brigade focus on air assault.
The 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, will be redesignated the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 11th Airborne Division.
-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.