Save Alaska's Long Range Surveillance Company
This petition had 542 supporters
We are expressing our concern regarding the potential loss of one of the Alaska National Guard’s most iconic and capable units, the Charlie (C) Company, Long Range Surveillance (LRS), 297th Squadron. This Airborne Company is the pride of the Alaska National Guard, having served Alaskans in many forms since 1964, when it was first stood up as the 38th Special Forces Company, as the Alaska Territorial Guard was being disbanded. This is one of the few federally recognized Airborne Companies of the Army National Guard, and we take pride in our unique Alaskan heritage and mission.
The war-time mission of LRS is to infiltrate up to 100 miles behind enemy lines, and provide eyes on enemy assets, reporting information back to their command while remaining undetected. The same technology that is used for that is also useful during a domestic disaster, especially their state-of-the-art radio communications equipment and airborne capability. LRS can emplace a self-sustaining six-man team anywhere within the state of Alaska within hours of a natural disaster, and establish communication with the rest of the world, regardless of the loss of satellite, cellular and landline communications. They also have the ability to set up helicopter landing zones and parachute drop zones, in order to coordinate life-saving supply drops and medical evacuation helicopters.
Their expertise is augmented by the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, which is housed on Fort Richardson and is one of the key airborne brigades of the US Army. Soldiers transitioning out of 4/25 actively seek LRS. For many Soldiers who joined the Army specifically to become paratroopers, the opportunity to continue to serve in an Airborne unit within our great state is a key part of their decision to join the Guard. LRS serves as a crucial recruitment vehicle for retaining valuable Active Duty knowledge and experience.
The mission of LRS ensures that its Soldiers have access to unique military schools. Should LRS disband, then access to the Army’s premiere leadership training also disappears. LRS has acted as a gateway to many of the Guard’s senior leaders, who “grew up” in LRS, and used it as a stepping stone to advance to their current positions. We understand the nature of force reduction. We are not asking you to not make changes. We are simply asking that you consider the advantages to retaining this unit.
C Company has a unique set of capabilities, which are essential to protecting Alaskans. Eliminating LRS could damage the belief in Alaska’s homeland defense, and be detrimental to the Guard’s recruiting and retention efforts. LRS has spent fifty years building this capability, along with relationships with Alaskan. Once this capability is removed, it will take several years to rebuild, due to the years of training required to create a qualified Long Range Surveillance Soldier, and years beyond that to create qualified leaders.
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