Soldiers under U.S. Army Alaska will receive a new commander Wednesday during a ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, Alaska.
Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler will replace Maj. Gen. Peter Andrysiak, who will head to U.S. Army Europe to serve as the deputy commander there.
Eifler is coming from a stint as the Army’s chief legislative liaison in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, he served as the deputy commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division.
Eifler commissioned as an infantry officer after graduating from Central Michigan University. He later held leadership roles in the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia, and commanded a brigade from the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
His deployments include Operation Uphold Democracy, in Haiti; Operation Iraqi Freedom, in Iraq; Operation Enduring Freedom, in Afghanistan; and Operation Inherent Resolve, in Iraq.
Eifler comes to lead Army Alaska at a pivotal point for the command.
The Army released a strategy document in March called, “Regaining Arctic Dominance,” which lays out the service’s plans to establish a two-star headquarters in Alaska to manage Arctic-focused combat brigades outfitted with tracked vehicles, tents, sleds and other equipment to help soldiers navigate deep snow and rugged terrain.
The strategy also discusses plans to put a multi-domain task force in Alaska that combines intelligence, cyber, space and electronic warfare to deny access to enemy forces — important for a region where sea lanes and flight routes are needed to traverse great distances.
Soldiers in the region have also been shifting their previously summer-focused training cycle into the winter months to get used to parachuting and living in the cold.
“It’s a return to the way things used to be in Alaska,” Andrysiak told Army Times in February. “There used to be a series of large-scale exercises that took place in the February-March time frame, but that really stopped in probably the early 1990s.”
Army Alaska has also grappled with suicide among its soldiers in the past. It’s a problem disproportionately affecting Fort Wainwright in the remote interior of Alaska, where the long, dark winters can be difficult for some people’s mental well-being.
In January, the command ordered alcohol sales to cease after 10 p.m. on Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in an effort to curb excessive drinking and related harms, such as drunk driving incidents and suicide.
The Army previously dispatched a public health team to Alaska in 2019 to conduct an epidemiological consultation, or EPICON, after a cluster of suicides was noticed.
Some of the changes that came of that study included black-out curtains in barracks, access to vitamin D supplements, a focus on empathy for soldiers facing legal action and an increased food allowance, Army officials said previously.