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ALASKA, 1955

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1955

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRITORIAL AND INSULAR AFFAIRS
OF THE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS,

Anchorage, Alaska. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 3:10 p. m., in the conference room, Headquarters, Elmendorf Air Base, Hon. Leo W. O'Brien (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Mr. O'BRIEN. The hearing will be in order. Proceed, Mr. Abbott.

Mr. ABBOTT. General, could you for the record identify yourself and the military personnel you have with you, please?

STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. J. H, ATKINSON, UNITED STATES AIR

FORCE COMMANDER IN CHIEF, ALASKA COMMAND; ACCOMPANIED BY BRIG. GEN. THOMAS R. STOUGHTON, UNITED STATES ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF, ALASKA COMMAND; AND COL. CARL Y. FARRELL, DISTRICT ENGINEER, ALASKA DISTRICT

General ATKINSON. J. H. Atkinson, lieutenant general, United States Air Force, Commander in Chief, Alaska Command; Brig. Gen. Thomas R. Stoughton, Army Chief of Staff, Alaska Command; Col. Carl Y. Farrell, district engineer, Alaska District.

Mr. ABBOTT. I think, General Atkinson, if you would like to proceed in your own way you might describe briefly the mission of your command in Alaska in general terms and with particular reference to your mission here.

General ATKINSON. As you probably know, the Alaska Command is a unified command operating under the Secretary of Defense. The Air Force, in the case of this area, is designated as the executive agency for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Therefore, I get my directives ordinarily through the executive agency, which is the Chief of Staff, United States Air Force. However, I do work for the Secretary of Defense.

Without going into the details of the mission of this command, generally it is to defend Alaska and the air approaches through the Arctic to this area in the defense of the continental United States.

There are several subordinate missions. I don't believe you are interested in those. In general, that is the general mission.

I suppose I should state we have a support mission here, however, that is a very important one, and that is that we are to establish, maintain in operating condition, the support of a strategic air offensive from this area should it ever become necessary.

That is about it.

Mr. ABBOTT. The interest of the committee, of course, General, comes about in view of the responsibility of the committee for handling

probably 90 percent of the legislation that affects the Territory of Alaska, and because of the rather prominent role that the military plays in Alaska, a determination of how the relationship between the Territorial function and the military from the Territorial standpoint might be on a maximum sound basis, and what problems exist on which assistance might be given.

If you could in your own way point up some of those things which affect the performance of your mission here and your relationship with the civilian population and the Territorial government, it might be helpful.

General ATKINSON. About all I can say on that subject, if I understand the query, is our relations with the Territorial government leave nothing to be desired that I know of. We get along well so far as I am concerned with the local communities.

Mr. ABBOTT. How many establishments do you have in Alaska under your command?

General ATKINSON. There are a great number of them, but I think you would be more interested in the large ones.

Mr. ABBOTT. The major ores.

General ATKINSON. I think I could name those for you. Starting on the Aleutian chain, a naval operating base at Adak, about 1,200 miles out, a rather large station, population of 2,000 or something like that. They have a fair harbor there that will take good sized vessels and a good flying field.

Coming on back to the other large naval operating base, it is at Kodiak on the Island of Kodiak itself. It also has a rather expensive flying field at Mid Harbor.

Then we come into the mainland of Alaska here at Elmendorf where you are now located, the Air Force base, and a large Army post 3 miles from here, and the headquarters of the United States Army forces in Alaska. Then up north of the Alaska Range in the Fairbanks area we have 2 large air bases, the Ladd Air Force base, and 26 miles down the Alcan Highway we have the Eielson Air Force Base, which is also a large installation.

That comprises the major installations of the command. There are numerous radar sites, small landing fields, that we can use for dispersal purposes and for staging operations, but that is the main installations,

Mr. ABBOTT. The subcommittee only a couple of days ago returned from Nome, and is it correct that the military is withdrawing from the Air Force base there?

General ATKINSON. Yes; that is substantially correct, We tried to withdraw at least a major portion of the military forces from Nome for some time. We have no requirement, which we have available at least, to have a military installation of any consequence at Nome. However, the flying field will still be there the same as it is when we had Air Force units there. The CAA has taken over the responsibility of running it. In fact, they already have that responsibility. We have not had any military forces of any consequence in Nome for some years. So there is really no big change except we are just moving a few people out.

Mrs. Prost. Do you feel that Nome is not a strategic point? General ATKINSON. Nome is not a strategic point in a military

sense.

Mr. O'BRIEN. The statement was made by someone up there-I have forgotten who it was that Nome was expendable. Actually, wouldn't the people of Nome be safer if it was not a target area?

General ATKINSON. I think you are quite right. I feel this way about it: that if we had a military installation there, such as where we could afford to put, say, a squadron, or something like that, the people of Nome would be in considerably more danger than they are now because it would become a military target. As Nome stands now and will when we get down to a very small number, say, 25, Nome will have no military significance whatever. I see no reason for them to expect any attack from a military standpoint. There would be no objective in it.

Mr. ABBOTT. General, what is the nonmilitary definition of defense perimeter? Does that have a common meaning or is it simply term used perhaps by nonmilitary people to describe a military operation?

General ATKINSON. I think in the sense of a large area like Alaskayou are speaking about that? You have defense perimeters around small areas sometimes in Army terms.

Mr. ABBOTT. In the generic sense, perhaps a half a dozen people, who must be presumed to be responsible citizens, seem to be a little disturbed—this is on the Seward Peninsula-and they quoted previous commanders in Alaska as saying that "the Seward Peninsula was outside the defense perimeter of the United States."

General ATKINSON. I don't think that is right at all. I kno!y the former commanders that preceded me on this job. I don't believe, if they made such a statement, they intended it that way.

Mr. ABBOTT. A part of it at least was based on what I believe was a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee finding that simply went into some of the questions of the defensibility of the Seward Peninsula and perhaps did not go to the question as to whether or not an attempt would be made to defend it.

General ATKINSON. May I talk in general terms here for a minute?
Mr. ABBOTT. Yes, sir.
General ATKINSON. To try to explain what you are thinking about.

I am not giving up, as the Commander in Chief of Alaska, defense of any part, not 1 foot of the Territory of Alaska. We are going to defend all of it to the best of our capability. It gets around to a question of how best to dispose the military forces available to you in order to make that defense practicable. It so happens that air power, as everyone in this room knows, has great flexibility, and we can do a lot more, in my opinion as a military man, towards, for instance, since Nome has been brought up, defending Nome the way our forces are now disposed than we possibly could by stationing limited forces there and exposing them on the perimeter of the defense system.

If we had a unit located, for instance, at Nome, we have no warning system out toward the land masses of the Chukotskiy Peninsula, so any attack would be right on top of us before we had time to get airplanes even on the alert into the air. So to me, exposing the military forces on the perimeter in this day and age, an air age, where there is no warning system to back it up, would be a very foolish move on the part of the military.

Mr. ABBOTT. And you have not yet reached an agreement with the people who occupy the Chukotskiy Peninsula so you can set up a warning system there?

General ATKINSON. No, sir. Of course, some people have said, I have had some people here tell me, "Well, the Soviets have seen fit to locate some airbases on their perimeter." I admit they have. That is their business. I hope they continue to do it.

Mr. ABBOTT. I think, General, your answer was squarely and precisely on point. It would have been a little disturbing to anyoneand again it was probably local interpretation as to what may have been said or concluded.

Mr. O'BRIEN. General, while we were in the vicnity of Nome we heard some rather glowing reports about the Eskimo National Guard unit up there. Were they overenthusiastic or is that quite a valuable aid?

General ATKINSON. I don't know just what they said, of course, but I think that the Eskimos that we have in the National Guard here are really quite valuable. They are quite valuable in the Ground Observer Corps, for one instance, and we also have them integrated into the Army National Guard, Scout Battalions. I think it is very possible in terms of emergency in time of war they would be invaluable in that capacity.

Mr. O'BRIEN. We also were given the impression they were not too vulnerable to subversion, that they were very loyal.

General ATKINSON. I think that is true. I believe it is. They did a very fine piece of work recently when we were unfortunate enough to lose a Neptune Patrol Bomber at Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, You probably read it in the newspaper. They did a fine job in getting skin boats and getting out there and getting the naval personnel out of the bomber and getting them back up where they could get medical aid. They are quite loyal people, I think, and I think we should carry on the program as now envisioned.

(Discussion off the record.)

Mr. ABBOTT. General, I think the record will bear out, and I trust Colonel Libby has reported to you, there is nothing but praise for your own cooperation in carrying out your functions in the Alaska Command. They list you as a senior, senior sourdough, which is much to the advantage of public relations timewise in the Territory. But there were at Fairbanks, and we understand there will be before the hearings in Anchorage are completed today, some questions raised as to the public relations, if you please, the arrangements between Fairbanks and Ladd Field and Eielson, which go to having created a forum so that the military and civilian can get together to thrash out your problems. What directions have you given to your subordinates in the Territory to assure that the civilian population can come in to meet on the various problems that arise in roadmaking, antinoise committees, or things along that line?

General ATKINSON. I have given no specific directions to them. In fact, it never occurred to me to do such a thing. It is such an elementary thing for a military commander to get along with the civilian community that I never thought of it as being necessary. I have at times, from time to time, in talking to the component commanders, when I was new up here and they were new to me, emphasized the fact we certainly want to have a working agreement with the local communities, and I haven't gone much beyond that.

Mr. ABBOTT. The questions have been raised as to whether or not the policy in the Alaska Command on so-called competing businesses

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