ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Galena, Alaska, was the site of a small United States Air Force base until 1994. Now, the the location is once again being considered as a spot for a regional hub, but this time, for the Alaska National Guard.
"We want to be able to get to rural Alaskan communities as quickly as possible," said Lt. Col Candis Olmstead, Alaska National Guard Dir. of Public Affairs, "to help them in the event of an emergency."
The agency has specifically been reaching out to communities with large airfields, which can be used for the movement of personnel and supplies.
"With Alaska being one fifth the size of the contiguous United States," Olmstead said, "and most of our land mass being off the road system, it's essential we're able to get to communities if there was a natural disaster."
Previous stops included Bethel, Kwethluck and Napaskiak. Galena, the fourth stop as part of the new initiative, a mission Brig. Gen. Torrence Saxe considers especially important.
"To respond quickly and efficiently," he said in a statement provided by the Alaska National Guard, "we can't just activate everything at the last minute and hope nothing goes wrong. Here, we are reaching out in advance to assess local capabilities and, most importantly, build the relationships that will be needed in the event that we need to rapidly mobilize on short notice."
The commander in charge is reportedly also looking at scheduling additional trips to Kodiak, Nome and Utqiagvik as part of the effort.
"The whole point of this," Olmstead said, "is to make sure we're helping Alaskan citizens during their time of need."
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